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Adventure, Balance, Celebration, Curiosity, Embodiment, Emotions, Experimentation, Inner Guidance, Joy, Life Coaching, Personal Growth, Play, Psychology

Wellness is swell ish Part 2

In my last blog post, I introduced the concept of the Indivisible Self, and focused in on the coping self. Now I want to dive into the creative self, to encourage each and every one of you to cultivate that natural curiosity and aliveness that we all possess when we drop in and reconnect to our childlike wonder and willingness to risk and play.

First, a quick refresher on what the Indivisible Self is—it’s a wellness model widely used in counseling because it is back by research on how living in wholeness means that we are integrating body, mind, spirit through attending to these intersecting and overlapping components of the social self (family, friendship, and romantic love), the essential self (your spirituality, cultural identity, and self-care), the physical self (exercise and eating well), the coping self (what you do in your leisure time, your stress management, and your self-worth), and the creative self (your thoughts, your emotions, what you do for work/study, and your sense of humor), which is what we will now explore, in depth.

Not everyone will be a painter or professional dancer, but we all have an innate creativity that comes through in our ability to learn, laugh, think outside of the box, and express our authentic selves and natural talents. Tapping into the creative self means realizing how unique we are and recognizing the strengths and gifts we bring to the world just by being ourselves. Nurturing this aspect means attending to our thinking—being mentally active and open-minded, willing to learn and bring curiosity to our lives and interactions—and our emotions—knowing how we are feeling, and expressing those feelings appropriately. The creative self also includes our satisfaction in a job or vocation that we feel uses our skills, a feeling of mastery and competence and a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at our mistakes. There is a lot of research that supports the benefits of positive thinking, emotional regulation, and laughter—reducing depression and anxiety, while strengthening the immune system.

This list, I hope, will spark some ideas of how to connect to your creative self.

Engage in life-long learning. Take advantage of events and programming at your local public library, universities, or museums. Watch the 25 Most Popular TED talks of all time. Enroll in a free online class through Coursera, whether it is how to speak Korean, intro to philosophy, or how to do web design, there are so many fascinating topics to dive into and learn.

Understand the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Sometimes we believe that our goals cannot be reached or feel discouraged at a new challenge. Our thoughts are powerful and if we approach life with the idea that our abilities and knowledge are limited or “fixed,” then we are less likely to succeed or even risk the challenge of new opportunities. In a growth mindset, we know that with practice and effort we can learn new skills, adapt, and succeed. Catch yourself when you have thoughts like “I will fail,” or “I don’t have talent,” and turn it into: “Before people succeed, they often experience some failures along the way,” and “I may not be able to do it now, but with practice and effort, in time I can probably learn.”

Know your strengths and celebrate them. Take this free survey from the VIA Institute on character strengths. Read up on your gifts and take some time to appreciate what makes you unique. I’d love to see your results! Take a screenshot and send it to me, letting me know what top strengths most resonated or surprised you!

Pick up one of these books and open your mind! (have any other book suggestions for our readers? comment below!)

Thought experiments and whimsical, mind-bending instructions from artist Yoko Ono in her book, Acorn 

Inspiration and practical advice on getting to the work of being creative in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a classic that can get you living your life more creatively right way through its many exercises

 

 

 

Check in with and validate your emotions. When we are very busy and have a lot on our plate, it’s easy to rush through our days without noticing how we are feeling. Get into a habit of stopping to sense what you are feeling, scan your body and notice any tension or stress and take some deep breaths as you visualize that tension leaving your body. Ask yourself: what are some deeper needs that I can give some attention to before returning to my to-do list? You might set an alarm or bell on your phone as a reminder to pause and check in with yourself. Use these helpful handouts to identify your emotions and needs.

Laugh every day. Even when times are tough or we face serious situations, it is important to remember to laugh. Comedy can provide relief and release tension, as well as increase blood flow, boost our immunity, and improve our emotional health. Spend time around friends or family who bring out your silly side, watch one of these funny movies, find hilarious clips on youtube, or take a laughter yoga class, where you can get an endorphin high without needing any real reason to laugh and instead treat laughter as a healthy exercise.

Share in the comments some of your own go-tos for getting creative and playful when life needs some lightness.

Balance, Boundaries, Celebration, Compassion, Dreams, Freedom, Inner Guidance, Intention, Life Coaching, Life Path, Personal Growth

Wellness 101, Part 1

Coaching or counseling can support growth and positive development for anyone, in any stage of life, and help individuals to live a full and
meaningful life. Central to this approach is the model of the Indivisible Self.  With over 25 years of research backing its efficacy, there are 5 components of this wellness model.  These are the social self (family, friendship, and romantic love), the essential self (your spirituality, cultural identity, and self-care), the physical self (exercise and eating well), the creative self (your thoughts, your emotions, what you do for work/study, and your sense of humor). I am introducing this series on wellness by focusing on the coping self (what you do in your leisure time, your stress management, and your self-worth).  This is a framework I sometimes use with my clients, when it feels appropriate, to assess which aspects of self are needing a little TLC, and also to identify where they are already thriving, so we can celebrate those successes.  I will detail here, in 5 installments, a little background about each component of the Indivisible Self, along with some practical tips for how to nurture those areas that you might be neglecting.

 

What is the coping self?

Coping relates to our ability to move through difficult emotions and events, and to adopt beliefs and behaviors that reduce our levels of stress. Knowing our inherent value as a person and having a strong sense of self-worth is one aspect of the coping self that can go a long way in fostering positive mental and emotional health. While self-esteem is based on our accomplishments, activities, and external standards of beauty or success, self-worth is instead based on who we are, not what we do or what we look like. We don’t have to buy into the mainstream competitive culture of comparing our relationships, careers, vacations, or attractiveness to anyone else’s. Instead, we can develop our self-worth by knowing our values, acting in integrity with them, and practicing self-compassion by speaking to ourselves in a kind way. Often, we are our own biggest critic, while we see the best in others and are willing to forgive our friends’ flaws and mistakes. Learning to encourage and assure ourselves the way we would a friend, can help to soften the inner critic.

How we spend our down time is another piece of the coping self. Being able to experience pleasure and find flow while absorbed in leisure activities and hobbies can help lift us out of the day to day routines of work and domestic responsibilities, and bring out our creative, spiritual, or social dimensions. Research shows that participating in enjoyable leisure activities or hobbies is linked to a decrease in stress, and to favorable outcomes in physical health measures such as lower blood pressure.

Lastly, learning to manage stress means understanding what brings on stress in your life, knowing how it impacts you, and developing tools to prevent or overcome stress. Stress management refers to the skill of organizing our time and energy so that we don’t get burned out or overextend ourselves.

Here are some specific ideas that may help you to build up your sense of self-worth, leisure, and stress management.

  • Take a self-compassion break. Writer and therapist, Dr. Kristin Neff, offers this exercise for when we are facing a stressful or painful circumstance: We bring the situation to mind and tune into what we are feeling. We then say to ourselves: 1) “This is a moment of suffering.” Or, “This is stress.” 2) “Suffering is a part of life.” Or, “I am not alone.” 3) “May I give myself compassion.” Or, “May I learn to accept myself as I am.” Choose language that feels right to you. You can also imagine what a friend would say to you in a challenging moment, and say these words to yourself.
  • Set healthy boundaries. Part of managing our time and energy includes being able to say “no” to invitations or requests on our time and effort, as well as building in free time into our calendars to account for unexpected events and distractions. Some questions you can ask yourself before agreeing to take on another commitment are: “Does this line up with my core values?” “Does this bring out my strengths or work towards my goals?” and “Is this something I will easily be able to fit into my schedule?” Alexandra Franzen offers this advice on how to say “no” to someone when you are worried about hurting a relationship or are feeling obligated to say “yes,” but know you cannot comfortably add more into your schedule.
  • Practice 4-7- 8 breathing. Intentional breathing with awareness can slower breathing, improve blood pressure, reduce stress and enhance wellness. Start by sitting up in a comfortable position, spine long, shoulders rolled back and body alert and relaxed. Touch the tip of your tongue to the ridge of your upper gums, behind your teeth. Slowly inhale through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for another count of 7. Open your mouth slightly, keeping your tongue in place, and exhale for 8 counts. Repeat this cycle 4 times.
  • Rediscover an interest or develop a new passion that helps you lose track of time. Getting absorbed in an activity and forgetting about all of life’s lists and labors is great for your health. I lose myself in music and making mixes for friends. Some of my clients feel flow in their yoga practice, boxing classes, poetry writing, comic book reading, baking, or painting. Is there a craft, sport, or field of knowledge you used to love that you lost track of as life got busy? Carve out some time to reconnect or explore new possibilities in your community. If you’re not sure where to start, flip through your local paper’s events calendar for inspiration and see if something jumps out at you to join in, or explore classes at a local parks and recreation center.
  • Schedule some wellness counseling with me! I will take the time to listen to you, discuss your goals, and together we can create a wellness plan that nurtures the coping self, as well as the physical, social, creative, and essential selves. Contact me here.
Balance, Dreams, Emotions, Experimentation, Freedom, Life Coaching, Life Path, Love is Space, Movement, Open, Personal Growth, Support, Transformation, Wisdom

When the light leaves our path

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to catch up with a close friend who moved away last year.  I was excited to fill her in on all of the newness in my life, especially graduate school and all that I am learning on my way to becoming a counselor.

And I was also eager to hear where she was at, after completing an intensive training on her path as a healer. She shared some of the struggle that is common after going through a life-changing experience. In this case, when a craft or vocation that deeply resonates is shown to you, you can see yourself living this out, yet you are not entirely sure how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I went through this uncomfortable and disorienting phase after finishing a life coaching program that held me and guided me for nine months. When the 9 month gestation period came to a close, me and this tight-knit group of women who’d been meeting weekly, were set free. Suddenly in the absence of structure and with coaching certificate in hand I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. With the withdraw of community energy all supporting our learning and dreams, I felt some post-process blues, as I returned to my everyday life, wholly changed yet not able to see the change bear out. alone-971122_1280

It took almost as long to move through the phase of integration as it took to complete the training program itself, so I wanted to assure my friend that the period of seeming inaction and confusion after feeling inspired and motivated is normal, and may be necessary. In these periods of lull and let-down, we are still upgrading our psycho-spiritual processing system, and that can take time.
Giving ourselves a
healthy dose of spacious patience to move through change and integrate helps us to be more effective in our pursuits, and also allows us to model to others how to live during these difficult times of limbo.

Before I’d gotten to the point of clarity around wanting to coach and eventually counsel, when I was feeling completely lost as a librarian searching for my calling, that phase, also, was precious and valuable. I guide others through muck and distress. Having been deeply in it, myself, at times trusting that movement was happening when things felt stagnant, at times feeling excruciating pain of feeling lost and unsure of how to serve, and at times surrendering and calling out for help, all of it was part of the path.

I’d just had the realization the night before talking with this friend about those many years of feeling impatient and frustrated, when my soul and heart wanted to burst out of my skin because I knew my true calling was in there somewhere, wanting to be born, but I did not know how to birth it: I was exactly where I needed to be at the time. The pain I had felt led me to deep listening and tuning into inner awareness, tweaking my lifestyle in small and big ways, finding mentors and guides, and getting into dance to move through all of it and heal in community.surrender

Because of all of this I am able to bring a full, dynamic self to the craft of counseling, carrying many healing practices and approaches with me because I relied on them to get me here. I know that I can give my energy and effort towards excellence in my counseling program without compromising the rest of my life. I can live in harmony, so that grad school and my career path are just another expression of who I am, embodied and in my heart. If I had discovered counseling as my path 10 years ago, I would be bringing a lot less life experience, fewer tools and resources, and less perspective on suffering and the wisdom of all emotions. I would be studying and writing papers without feeling the fluidity in my body, without dance and meditation breaks, without a sense of my own wholeness.

What bell hooks says of “engaged pedagogy” applies as much to counselors, coaches, healers, or creatives as it does to teachers in the classroom. If I may adapt her proclamation from Teaching to Transgress to the practice of transgressive therapy: “Counselors must be actively committed to a process of self-actualization that promotes their own well-being if they are to counsel in a manner that empowers clients.” That process is not always easy, it happens in the dark, and at times, on a road no one else has traveled before. We walk, we crawl, we curl up and take a nap, and with courage, we keep moving.

I envision with and for my clients a pervasive sense of well-being. Who they are when living a heartful and soulful life comes through in all that they do. But I also know that along the way to purposeful and centered we can feel stuck, at a loss, and alone.  Coaching can provide the support and teach tools of self-compassion, to move into the radical trust that you are on the heart-soul path even when it feels scary or stagnant. With courage, lionhearts!

 

Awareness of Sensation, Balance, Compassion, Embodiment, Emotions, grounding, Healing, Life Coaching, Love is Space, Mindfulness, Self-love, Suffering, Whole Body

The 5 S’s of handling distress

Sometimes a big emotion rolls in and seems to take over without warning.  We may be flooded with sadness, possessed by anger or jealousy, or perhaps we get caught in an argument or crisis and our whole system seems to get overloaded and overwhelmed in an instant. When we get triggered, we can help to re-set our nervous systems and calm our body, heart, and mind. Move through these 5 steps when you catch yourself stressed out or upset. If you’re interacting with others or in a public situation, simply excuse yourself by saying you need to go to the restroom or outside for a moment…no need to give a “why.”

STOP

press pause on the moment. don’t react. just take a deep, spacious breath in…and out.

stop

SOFTEN

notice your body. is there tension? loosen, let go, and soften your whole body. your jaw–relax it. your shoulders–lower them. with your strong emotions, you may only be able to do this a teeny tiny bit. that’s great…just a notch. turn down the volume of the situation by signalling to the body that it can soften a little smidgen. feel into the softness as much as you are able.

SCAN

close your eyes (if you’re able) and go into your body with your awareness. turn within. see inside your heart, your belly, legs, feet, arms and hands, throat and neck, head. draw your attention on what is happening inside. check out the energy in your chest area, behind your eyes, in your gut, feel within your muscles and bones…tune in and scan to see what it feels like inside you. breathe here for a few minutes.

SENSE

turning from the internal to the external: are you hot? cold? how do your clothes feel on your skin? how does the air touching your skin feel? what sounds do you hear? what do you see all around you–looking up, down, and side to side? observe as if you were a scientist just exploring and doing an inventory of what the 5 senses are picking up.

SOOTHE

take 3 full belly breaths in and out. find some way to soothe yourself. a cup of tea? a walk in nature? a piece of music? a healing mantra? petting a dog? choose something that soothes and restores.

~practice, rinse, repeat.~

Balance, Celebration, Embodiment, Experimentation, Freedom, Intention, Joy, Life Coaching, Movement, Open, Play, Whole Body

Taking a page from a 12 year old’s playbook

I’ve been spending lots of time with a young girl.

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She is bursting with fun, creative energy. She shrieks and laughs and announces her visions out loud. She has an endless stream of ideas for things to make and do, and a curiosity and bubbly excitement over an array of interests. Her favorites: imagining her dolls’ lives and relationships and designing new props for them, watching and bopping along to music videos, discussing characters from movies she loves, taking interest in her family history, playing board games, drawing and coloring, and jumping rope.

On top of all of the wonderment and play, girl’s got homework, too, though–reading, writing, and arithmetic. While she may not be as in love with these, she always gets ’em done…and without complaint. I’ve noticed a couple ways that she approaches things she has to do and balances them with what she wants to do. While our adult schedules may not allow for as much leisure time, I think we can still adopt some of her strategies for success!

 

 

  •  Treat the “work” a bit more like play. How? Can you turn a chore into something a little more fun, light, and engaging? This could be something simple like making housework and cleaning into a game with uplifting music and dancing around with a vacuum, rag, or broom. Or, paying bills could be something you can do with a timer on to see how quickly you can get ‘er done. Dress up in a zany outfit while writing a report or paper and use colorful markers for taking notes at work. Get creative and silly when there’s not too much at stake.
  • Break your activities up into small manageable chunks, rewarding the to-dos with little prizes of want-to-dos. You could set a timer and make an agreement with yourself to work on a less fun task for, say,  20 minutes, after which you can celebrate by eating a square of chocolate, dancing to your favorite song of the moment, looking at Pinterest for 5 minutes, etc. Mix the day up into work and play and reward yourself when you meet your goals!
  • Let’s get physical! I love that this girl throws in even 2 minutes of jump rope between some of her other activities, because this feels like a do-able way to sneak in movement and exercise without having to make a big deal of it. When getting up to grab something from the printer or another room, when transitioning between different work tasks, when returning from a restroom break, take a minute or two to walk fast, jog, stretch, shake out your arms, hands, legs, feet, and do some neck rolls. It’s easy to get trapped up in the small space that your brain occupies, forgetting about the wild animal body that wants your attention, from the neck down. Remember to check in with the senses and skin and muscle and lungs that moves and breathes you all day.

Brainstorm with me! What are some fun and accessible activities you can reward yourself with during a long day of commitments and errands? What is something that will make you smile, stimulate you, bring you pleasure or relief, that can be done in the moment? Comment below with a list of some of your ideas!

 

 

Awareness of Sensation, Balance, Freedom, Life Coaching, Life Path, Open, Personal Growth, Self-love, Silence, Soul, Transformation

My body is here…

feet on earth.

My breath is still here, however shaky or uneven.

I’ve surprised myself by not getting totally freaked out at having no steady work or predictable paycheck. I’ve stayed calm when it comes to my financial future and getting the rent and bills paid.

That doesn’t mean I’ve stayed calm and serene this past month–and it’s been exactly one month since my last day of 8-5.

At first, I had things to focus on: GRE studying, applications for grad school, a busy holiday week taking care of people’s pets, including a chihuahua who bit me and a mutt who is scared of everyone and pooped in her crate the first time I went to walk her.

But as life quieted, pups calmed down, and to do lists were checked off, emptiness entered. And so did doubt. And a billion questions I hadn’t had the time or space to sit with in the past 6 years of full-time employment and busyness.

Anxiety and panic rushed in, fluttered around my chest, tightened my body, twisted my insides. What am I doing?spinnedbloom

I am still spinning. I have to remind myself. My feet remind me; my breath reminds me: I am here. I am okay. I feel a call to grow, to move, to shake up the way I’ve been living–and more pressing–the ways I’ve avoided living. The ways I’ve stayed comfortable or asleep.

What is stirring inside and coming through me still feels far away, amorphous, unknown. I am trusting that everyday, the small choices I make from inner guidance and soul growth, will reveal to me where I am next needed, and what I will be doing.

I wrote in a letter to a friend today: “I’ve made it a problem on some days, but today I am okay not knowing what is happening or where I will land when the spinning stops.”

What grounds me: as mentioned, stopping to notice my breath lifting my chest and exhaling through pores. Pressing and feeling my feet on the earth. Also, being with my dog and getting swept up in the transcendent and sensual power of music.

It’s normal to grasp for clarity and answers, to want to tell a story about our growth or learning…but there is also room for “I don’t know” and “I have no idea!” There is a time for trusting that soul is guiding you where you need to be. When there are no words for your experience nor a tidy narrative for where you’ve been and where you are going, find what works moment to moment.

I say this prayer to myself. Let me open to life, to the mystery of it. Instead of hiding and retreating in fear, or panicking and flailing in reach of something solid, may I face the risks of being 1000% in my life. May I feel the freedom and possibility of creation that follows the emptiness and endings and may I trust that I will arrive when my soul is ready.

May you trust your soul growth, as well. May you allow it to lead you into new and sometimes uncomfortable places. Have the courage to be true to yourself.

chogyamquote

 

Balance, Curiosity, Discernment, Dreams, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Intention, Joy, Life Coaching, Mindfulness, Open, Self-love

Logging out and tuning In

goldToday is a day of firsts.

The first day of being fully self-employed after leaving my 8 to 5. First post out to you from this sense of freedom. The first day of creating the life I want to live.

It is also the first day of a month-long fast from social media. That’s right–I won’t be going online to update my status, check trending topics, or even follow marketing strategies for my coaching practice on Facebook, because I would rather focus my time on connecting with myself in meditation, with nature on walks in the woods, with my dreams by accomplishing my goals, and with friends and loved ones through voice to voice, face to face, heart to heart connection.

I remember a time before the web, when my attention felt longer, more open, and my curiosity guided me to more creative endeavors and outings. When I felt calmer, more centered, and more connected to those around me. I am not one to dismiss technology altogether and I am grateful for all the ways social media has brought me and my coaching practice in contact with new people around the world as well as giving me a glimpse into the lives of old friends and family who are far away. This is all meaningful and I do not fault social media for making it anything other than satisfying and enhancing everyday life. If it has the power to pull me in and change my brain and my life, it is because I allow it to.

And so, I do value a good Facebreak now and then, a hiatus from social media, to get the sense of life slowed down back into my bones, to open up more space in my field of awareness, to remember the richness of being tuned in to my inside and the bigger and bolder outside…outside of screens and memes. I go offline to reconnect to the vast array of potential for connection, wildness, and love that lives beyond the internet.

When I return, I carry with me more balance and boundaries around how I spend my time online. It tends to erode–the busier and more chaotic things feel, the more I seem to scramble for false refuge in uncalming diversions. And so, I catch myself and press pause, yet again.

Can today be a day of firsts for you? What would you like to start doing today? You could start with setting an intention or take a 5 minute break to sit mindfully and listen to your breath. Can you schedule your first coaching session to unleash your inner power and creative energy? What can you do today to feed your soul?

Or perhaps you want to consider your own relationship to social media. What are you not doing with the time you spend on social media? What are you keeping yourself from doing or feeling when you fall into Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest for hours? When are these social media sites bringing you joy and connection? When are they improving your life? When are you using these to distract yourself, procrastinate, numb out, avoid, or compare and judge yourself?

Maybe it’s time for your first break from social media. You can begin with a baby break of a day or 2, and just see…what do you notice? I’d love to hear your thoughts and discoveries!

Autumn, Awareness of Sensation, Balance, Compassion, Dancing is Healing, Embodiment, Experimentation, Healing, Life Coaching, Love, Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, Open, Self-love

Rainy days and Tuesdays

I’ve lost track of how many days it has been since I’ve seen the sun. Overcast and rainy here in Carrboro, North Carolina last week, then more damp grey in Charlottesville, Virginia where I spent a weekend reuniting with friends and the conscious dance community, and  back at home this week and in the 10 day forecast: showers, drizzle, thunder, clouds.

raindrops-828954_1280

Even before the rain came, I felt the onset of fall. The change in the air and the light…and my mood. Many people welcome weather that allows for soups, hot cocoa, long sleeves, pants, and boots. I bask in summer light and heat…I play and jump and dance in the luminous and tropical dog days.  Summer is the season that makes my spirit soar. And when autumn arrives, I always crash a bit.

The lack of sun and shorter days bring on a melancholy and a drop in my energy. I come home from work a little bummed. The sky is darkening and I haven’t gotten my daily dose of being outdoors. I feel it in my body as a slowness, a tiredness, a drop, and then my brain, whys and what fors and other existential questions pop and clutter the radio waves of my mind. I can see through their illusory nature…just thoughts, not true, and yet the pull towards going to sleep–literally and figuratively is strong on some somber September and early October days.

I co-lead a fitness group and so I have some pressure in my mind that I should be the exemplary model of staying on top of my workout (6 days a week is my ideal) and should be able to come right home from work and start exercising. I know exercise is good for the brain, so this will help, right? Well, humans are multidimensional and are bodies and brains need different kinds of attention to heal and rediscover our wholeness depending on the moment.

Here are 3 ways I approach my Autumn Inertia and Blues. May these serve you on days you’re feeling low and unmotivated.

  1. Surrender to your resistance. Instead of fighting the feelings and repressing or denying the very real and biological changes that happen when we are exposed to less light and the season’s change, allow yourself to feel what is happening and to honor the natural cycles and rhythms of your body and life. In that surrender, feel into your body and ask: what do i most need right now? What does that tenderness or tiredness want? Stop with the shoulds and instead tap into the needs of the moment–Do I need a bath? a walk? a cry? a nap? tea with a friend? journaling? knitting while watching a funny movie? Be soft and friendly with yourself. Allow yourself to be guided by what you need to do to care for yourself as you allow the feelings to be there…and normalize the feelings. It is normal to feel a change our energy and mood when fall replaces summer. It is normal to need some down time in the transition. Remind yourself of this and allow yourself the rest and comfort you need–without feeling bad about it.
  2. Opposite to emotion action. This is a skill from Marsha Linehan’s brilliant brainchild, a mindfulness and cognitive treatment program known as Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The dialectic is the embracing of the paradox: I accept myself completely, I embrace how I feel AND I can change my behavior and choose something different. So while we acknowledge that we are not feeling like working out, or going out, or socializing, we choose to do it anyway, as we can see we do not need to be controlled by the whims of ever-changing emotions. We make a choice out to act out of the wisdom that we will feel better through moving around and getting the blood flowing, or by connecting with people, or getting done what we need to do. Feel the resistance and do the thing anyway. You can break it down into smaller steps. You can visualize yourself doing the thing you know you need to do. But then just do it! This may seem contradictory to my previous tip, but it is not. It all starts with allowing what is there to Be, then connecting to your own wisdom to know what it is that feels right for you, case by case.
  3. Embody your resistance. This is an invitation to release whatever stuckness you feel through the body. I have danced and taught Nia for many years, a fitness program I love whose motto is “Through Movement We Find Health.” And if I cannot force myself to get up, lace up my sneakers, and turn on my workout dvd to do mountain climbers and burpees, there is a different way to move, organically, that will both address the need to move for physical health, yes, but also for spiritual and emotional health. Notice the pain and difficult feelings that are present and then move as if you were expressing them through your body. Right where you are, in your room (you can even start seated or lying down) get curious. This mood–sadness, frustration, exhaustion, depletion, resistance: what would it do, how does it move, what does it look like? This could be as small and subtle as slight tap of your fingers, turn of your wrist, lifting of a limb, maybe your feet or hips or head will start to get into it…get into your mood with your body and then express it outward. Move into a shape that feels like your sadness or struggle. Pause to feel it…then move with the changing emotions as you give them space to live and breathe and release through your body. Make it a dance…a creative, curious exploration of what movements your mood wants to make. Express the emotions, witness how they show up in your body, and move through them. What do you notice?

Bonus: read this poem by Rilke (translated by Robert Bly) aloud to yourself.

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

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Be the one to hold yourself up in your falling.

And for more support in the shifting season, sign up for my 7 Days of Self-Connection offering. It’s free. 

Autumn, Balance, Compassion, Curiosity, Embodiment, Emotions, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Healing, Life Coaching, Love, Love is Space, Meditation, Mindfulness, Silence, Soul, Spirituality

Intention, Reflection, Solitude, and Heart

Retro-Fallyinyang

For me, summer can tend to feel full and fun and overflowing with activity. It has a vibrancy and dynamism I enjoy in the hot sunny weather I soak up into my Vitamin D-loving skin.

As we downshift to fall, a new atmosphere takes over. The air is cooler, thinner. The evening sky arrives earlier and night sounds emerge in the dusk. Things slow down.

Last night I sat in my apartment enveloped by cricket sound and shadows and twilight. I felt pulled into a spaciousness and relaxation in the hypnotizing chirp that rose from the darkness.

I find that the arrival of autumn actually creates more space for me to re-set my intentions and be more deliberate about how I expend the energy I have. As I move into quieter days, what are the ways I live that are absolutely essential to my soul and spirit? And of what can I let go?

This brings me to why I do the work of coaching. When I am powering along and checking off to-do lists and staying on top of my responsibilities and running around from social event to work commitment to community meeting, I can go on for some time without ever being with myself. My head takes charge in attempting to manage and organize life, and it seems like I am doing everything “right” and staying on track. But I am not there. I am not in it–i am not really in my body or in my life.

The kind of overflowing that feels most nourishing is not the abundance of outer activity, but the abundance of our own inner resources. Coaching can be that pause button for someone else–and in the questions and the quiet, it offers my clients the opportunity to plug into their inner sense of calm, clarity, energy and wisdom.

I so believe that there is nothing more healing that being with ourselves completely. I am passionate about supporting that connection, in myself and others, that feeds our souls. Noticing, with our natural awareness, what we feel in our bodies. Tuning into our hearts, with breath and attention. Grounded and supported, by our own center.

Join me for a week long online retreat. It’s free…and though it is online, its goal is to get you offline for 20-30 minutes a day of Intention, Reflection, Solitude, and Heart. I will offer simple practices to encourage and support an ease of change into fall stillness and self-connection.

It’s easy to sign up. And the commitment is what you are willing to put in…and what you would like to get out of it. We start 10/10/2015 in the evening…we wrap up 10/17/2015. Each day, you will receive an email inviting you into short meditation, journaling, gratitude, nature walks…you have a lot of choice about how you do the practices. They are designed to nurture you as you only know how. open1

There is also an optional Facebook group that you can join in and share your experiences and support each other, if you wish. Contact me here if you’d like to be added.

Would love to have you there! Sign up here.

Balance, Compassion, Curiosity, Discernment, Dreams, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Intention, Life Coaching, Mindfulness, Power Within, Self-love, Soul, Spirituality, Whole Body, Wisdom

Balanced Living Part 2: Steps Towards Sanity

As I shared in my previous post, if we can move from the myth that balance is a state at which we will finally arrive and once and for all, figure out, then we can instead embrace living each day as an intentional practice of balancing. I want to offer some tips on how to bring more of a sense of ease around the goal of balance.

First, I want to check in. What does balance even mean to you? “Work/life balance” is a bit of a buzz phrase these days and we can easily assume we know what it means without examining it more closely. What aspects of balance, if any, are important to us?  Balance usually doesn’t mean literally spending an equal amount of time at work as we do in our personal life.  Fundamentally, this whole phrase “work-life” balance seems to set up a false dichotomy between who we are at the workplace and who we are outside of the office. Indeed, the more we can merge those two seemingly separate worlds into one–as in our most cherished goals, values, and dreams are being played out in all that we do, whether in career or in friendships and our homes, the more of a sense of balance we tend to feel.

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What is this for you? What intention would you set to inform how you live your life wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I aim to live in embodied presence, openness, and compassion at my day job and at night. There are choices I can make day to day to encourage that approach to living. What feels like balance to you? What synonyms might resonate with you that get to the heart of what balance means for you, personally? Present, centered, calm, relaxed, integrated, whole, alive?

(R you ready?) Here are 7 steps you can take towards living a daily life of balance.

  • Refine –Get clarity on what balance means to you. What are the particular qualities of feeling balanced, for you?  What are the activities and values that support that? What are some choices you could make, starting now, to bring the qualities of balance into your life. Does meditation help ground and center? A regular fitness routine? Whole nutrition and lots of water intake? Laughs with family? Hikes or  yoga or knitting? Are there things you’ve not been doing that really would contribute to more of a sense of balance? Do some journaling about what you’d like to bring more of into your life.
  • Reflect –Track everything you do for a day and create a list or pie chart that measures out how you spend your time. Minutes on social media, moments of worry or rumination, hours sleeping, time working on creative projects, exercising, etc. Are there ways you are spending time that don’t actually support your sense of balance? If there are activities that drain you of energy, what steps can you take towards letting those go?
  • Refuse –Now that you know what balance is for you, learn to say “No,” to requests that do not align with that. This could mean setting boundaries around your time and space, or resisting impulses and urges to zone out online or with TV. Be intentional about each choice you make and how it fits into your priorities. It is okay to say “No” without offering any justification for why. Be strong and clear in knowing that how you spend your time matters, so that you can show up fully invested and present in all you do because you’ve chosen to be there, in full awareness of how it fits into your intentions.
  • Rethink –Are there errands that you are running randomly throughout the week that cause you to take multiple trips in the same direction? Be strategic with your errands and find a way to consolidate driving (busing/walking/subwaying) out to get things during the same visit. Could you ask for support to lighten the load or help with chores?
  • Refrain–Take a vacation from complaining. It is natural to want to vent and can be helpful to feel and express our emotions. However, getting stuck in a loop about how busy and overwhelmed we are or how hectic life is can heighten our overwhelm and reinforces a story that we are powerless to direct our daily choices and how they affect us. Notice when you tend to go into that thought pattern and interrupt it. Focus on the why of what you are doing and talk about that instead. Shift your perspective from complaining about what you are doing to celebrating the why behind it. I care about going to work, for instance, because it sustains my beautiful and nurturing home and it allows me to contribute to my community. Even in the moments I don’t enjoy it, it is showing me how to move closer to work I love.
  • Relax –Schedule downtime in your calendar/planner/to-do list so that you guarantee yourself space in your day to do nothing. Even if a day looks to be full…find the 15 minutes or half hour. Protect that time as if it were any other commitment.
  • Remember –You are human, you are alive. Our worlds are in constant change, the amount of activity and intensity ebbs and flows. Accept that sometimes we will feel pressure and stress and that is not a sign that we are failing or doing something wrong.  There are ways to encourage calm during the chaos. Go to what makes you reconnect to who you are underneath the noise, to-do lists, and demands. Breathe in the air of being you, being here. Know you are doing great work!

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