Browsing Category

Experimentation

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, 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!

 

Adventure, Autumn, Celebration, Compassion, Dreams, Emotions, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Healing, Intention, Life Coaching, Life Path, Mindfulness, Open, Personal Growth, Self-love, Soul, Suffering, Support, Wisdom

Letting go, creating change, a practice for magicians and wizards of self-love

A beautiful, sunny day that began with a walk with a friend and dogs, with weekend weather that’s allowed the delicious coziness of light sweaters and leggings.  An exciting new beginning as I’m catapulted into my life as a full-time graduate student, in a field fully aligned with my mind and heart, where I’m getting daily affirmation that I am on the right path. Also, close enough to my return from France that I still can recall how freeing the experience of traveling alone feels in my body, and can easily connect to the joy of walking miles a day on cobblestone to be wowed by gardens, castles, vineyards, ornate bridges, rose windows, public transit, and pain au chocolat.  These are days to cherish and savor.

IMG_2421

I turned 37 in July and when I left 36, I entered into possibility and adventure. I started inhabiting myself more completely, without the inner struggle and conflict that marked past years of grappling with career and relationship confusion, sapping my energy and attention (more on that, soon). I feel fully engaged and in my life, and I feel satisfied.

Except for when I don’t. There are times I forget and feel impatient about where I am on the journey. Instead of staying open to possibility and adventure, I close down around my desires and feel like I can’t be me until things or situations arrive or can’t be truly happy until things are arranged to my liking.

In some ways ending a 2 year relationship and starting out a Masters program can seem like certainties, specific finalities or futures planned out. Yet being single and in “beginner’s mind” as I embark on the path to becoming a counselor, so much is unknown and undefined. This is a vulnerable place to be, but truly, we all never know what will happen, even if things seem solid, small changes sometimes have a big impact, and small changes can happen at a moment’s notice.

For me, these next couple years will be a process of getting to know my philosophical orientation and professional identity as a counselor, getting to know people and clarifying my relationship goals and what I want to give and receive in my romantic life. There are a billion things I want for my life at 37 and beyond, some of which I am pursuing by going back to school for counseling, taking on new coaching clients, meeting people online and dating, dancing at home and in community, and forging friendships as I release old connections that I’ve outgrown. The constant practice, for me, is to not close up around my wants and get attached to outcome, to not craft an identity that I then get stuck in and am unable to flex and grow from, and to not feel discouraged when what I believe I want is not already here.

So, here I share a practice that I do to build my awareness around where I am attached and where I summon all the power of life and love within and without to break these fear-based patterns.

I meditate in stillness and quiet for 10-25 minutes before moving into this practice. Establishing the connection of meditation helps me listen more deeply to what is true under the surface grasping and whining. Then I go inward and check out what I am holding onto, what thoughts are driving my emotions and behaviors, what stories I’m telling myself, then I name all of it as I pull in a “clearing statement” from Access Consciousness, to help me cut through it with sharp awareness, wisdom, and compassion.  The clearing statement is like the abracadabra of a magical spell…”I  create as I speak,” or “May it be so,” invoking the power of language and intention to create change.

abra

Even in times of joy–sometimes especially, as we may be clinging on to things as they are, worried about losing what is going well–we can experience anxiety and insecurity. As this very amazing moment in my life opens me up to learning new things and loving new people, I find a lot of fear in and around my chest, a tightening jaw, flurried belly flops, repetitive thoughts pulling me into a spiral of anxiety, and a tenderness about emotional, intellectual, and spiritual risks that I am taking.

The process of tuning into all of this, speaking it, and clearing it out went like this the other day (note–these words came out spontaneously and were captured on audio so I could share with you–it is always unknown, unplanned, and uttered from the wisdom of the moment):

ALL THE WAYS I let fear pull me around, hook me in. All the ways I lose trust. All the ways I abandon myself and focus on someone else making me whole. All the ways I grab and cling and want to control life or know the future and ensure an outcome. All the ways I contract and get tight and small around my desires. Destroy and uncreate all of that. “Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS that I leave myself, my truth, my wholeness and grasp at something outside. All the ways I think someone can fulfill me, all the ways I feel afraid of rejection, abandonment, of not being lovable. Destroy and uncreate all of that. “Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS I forget that I’m already whole and already loved, all the ways I lose touch with my own heart and go into lack…all the ways I dwell in sadness and fear, that I feel sorry for myself. All the ways that I push away my experience and reject my emotions. Destroy and uncreate all of that. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS I get self-absorbed and make my pain the center of the world, all the ways I don’t show up for others and don’t reach out to connect, or make my sadness bigger than everything else on earth, including my own heart. Destroy and uncreate all of that. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

ALL THE WAYS I believe I’m smarter than everyone, the ways I judge and criticize, all the ways I want to be right, all the ways I am not open to learning and challenging my world view. And all the ways I make myself small, don’t use my voice, doubt my intelligence and contributions. Destroy and uncreate all of that. Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, POD, POC, All 9, Shorts, Boys and Beyonds.”

Having been said, make it so, now. Activate growth, change, and healing.

Clearly, I could (and did) go on…that was just a part of what felt up for me on 1 day. I share this to show you that we are in this human experience together–all the ways we undermine our own happiness by identifying it as outside of us or in the future, when some external goal is reached. All the ways we humans think we are missing something and fixate on lack. All the ways we forget who we are. These are so common! This practice can help us see these for what they are and to get underneath, in the wise mind that knows the wholeness we already are, in the tenderness of our oh so human vulnerability. Vulnerability is not about something being absent, but the presence and fullness of love, compassion, and open-heartedness.

Naming our habits can build awareness. We cultivate the counter-habit of catching ourselves in the act, not to chastise but to chuckle, and say…there’s that again, that energy of wanting to control, that tendency to place the responsibility of my fulfillment on someone/something else.

When we truly believe in change, we see it leaving our field, we feel our bodies lighten from the lost weight of worry and grasping. It will come back, and we will practice again.We stay in compassion for ourselves and our habits. And sometimes, we forget all this meditation and magic and have a good cry with a friend and a cathartic release of all our crap, and move deeper into love with ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

balloons-1081801_960_720

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!

 

 

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!

Adventure, Curiosity, Dancing is Healing, Experimentation, Freedom, Joy, Life Coaching, Play

8 Ways to Play

I–along with 50 lovely folks from the US and abroad–just wrapped up a week long online retreat. In our 7 days of self-connection, we took the time each day to be with ourselves in meditation, movement, exploration, creativity, and self-compassion. Each day offered a new theme and one of those themes was PLAY!

During our retreat, I shared some ideas for adding fun and whimsy into our days and thought I’d share some of those here…and a few others that didn’t make it into my retreat practices.

What are your favorite ways to play? Comment below to add to the list!

SILLY DANCE

Find a song that makes you feel good. Make up your own silly dance to go along with it…try to make it as goofy as possible. Invite friends and family to invent ridiculous choreography together.

CREATIVE NATURE WALK

Take a walk in the woods or garden. Find 3-5 nonliving things to bring back home with you. Keep your eyes open while walking for anything of beauty or unusual on your trail. Dead leaf with an interesting color or shape, a stick that speaks to you, rocks or pebbles, pine cones or acorns, berries, mushrooms. In a sacred or private space for reflection, place the objects from your walk as if you were presenting a work of art.

HULA HOOPING

This toy has been reinvented and redesigned to be an ideal fitness activity that is loads of fun! If your town doesn’t offer classes, you can find tutorials for hip, waist, chest hooping and more online or order instructional DVDs. 

WEAR A COSTUME TO THE GROCERY STORE

Dress up is not just for Halloween. Just doing your normal everyday errands in wigs, capes, and bunny ears can inspire laughs.

MANDALA COLORING

Get yourself some markers, colored pencils, or crayons and print free mandalas from here or here. Get coloring!

screen-shot-2015-06-17-at-6-25-56-pm

NIGHT SKY WATCH

Go out and observe the stars. Find constellations. Make up your own constellations–see a shape and give it a name. 

GIBBERISH

Get together with a friend and have a conversation in made up language, each of you speaking in your own gibberish as if having an everyday interaction. Use your invented language to complain and vent when you’ve had a rough day.

GO ONO

Check out Yoko Ono’s creative and mind-bending prompts in her books Acorn + Grapefruit.

419j+fOtieLyoko-ono-grapefruit-map-piece41Mrl0HqqyL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

 

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.

colorful-604100_1280

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.

sunglow

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!

beinghere

Balance, Curiosity, Dancing is Healing, Dreams, Embodiment, Experimentation, Freedom, grounding, Life Coaching, Mindfulness, Movement, Open, Personal Growth, Play, Power Within, Transformation, Whole Body

Balanced Living Part 1: Myth Busting

Who here practices yoga?

You know tree pose? Or vrkasana in sanskrit? Non-yogis: imagine rooting one foot into the ground and balancing on that side while your other leg folds up so that the foot can lay flat on the inner thigh of your standing leg. You are grounded to the earth and lifting up– long spine, chest open, arms out wide like tree branches, or palms together in prayer at your heart. Eyes fixed on a still point to help focus the mind.

5798315823_19a54c728a_zEven in the most expert and balanced version of this, there is movement. Some of us feel trembling in the leg, some shakiness in our arms. We may fall out of the pose and re-center to move back into balance. Then there is the rising and falling of breath, the micro-movements and tiny imperceptible adjustments to continually tweak and maintain strength and stability in the posture.

And yet in life, we often do not see balance like this–as a dynamic and ever-shifting process. Many clients come to coaching seeking balance as if it were a place they will finally land, a state at which they will arrive or a magic formula they will figure out…never to be overwhelmed, exhausted, or thrown off course again.

It can feel super challenging to do all the things we need and want to do in our days while also getting the sleep, nutrition, exercise, and time to relax that we need.

I want to offer some strategy and perspective to help. The very first is dropping the expectation that there will be a time when we will just get it and forever be balanced. Life is fluid and full of change…we can approach balance as something that we, everyday, recommit to moving toward and dancing with. We set our intentions and move consciously throughout our day, deciding what is truly needed in each moment. Breathing into our legs and lungs and making adjustments to stay clear, centered, and sane.

We can create more ease, be more clear on what our priorities are, and practice more presence. Yet moving towards balance does not mean we can eliminate uncomfortable feelings or stress or reach some final perfected equilibrium. More so, dancing with balance means we won’t get so rattled or discouraged by our challenges or by waves of chaotic energy. We will pay attention to our limits, know the signs of when to stop, and take steps to best nurture and care for ourselves. We honor our wholeness in all our decisions, and consciously choose how we spend our time and energy.

Next post: I will share more on how to stop chasing balance and how to live in the dynamic dance of balancing.

For now…

Homework PLAY:

Create a dance move that expresses your relationship with balance in your life right now…the dance may change, but now, what does it look like? What does it feel like in your body? Choose a theme song and do your balance dance movement to it! What did you come up with?