Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

Ah, the body. Our most constant companion. Our oldest friend. There are a few things we should recognize about the body. The first is that our body is extremely wise, it knows what it needs, and it cannot lie in asking for what it needs. The second is that when we ignore what is going on in our mental and emotional world for long enough, the body will speak out against it.

Yesterday in leading group therapy about how we numb, avoid, and withdraw from what we are feeling, several group members began asking about somatic symptoms that they are experiencing. Somatic means ‘related to the body’ or ‘physical’ and these are the signs that the body is speaking up about what is going on in the mind. Not all physical symptoms can be traced back to an emotional root, but many can.

We often ignore, numb, and avoid feeling things for so long that we become unaware and unable to describe what we are feeling. So, to get the group back into their bodies, we began by describing how different emotions feel in the body. We discussed how depression can feel like the body is heavy, drained, and that doing anything takes more effort than there is energy available for. We discussed how anxiety can feel like electricity running beneath the skin, butterflies in the stomach, and an inability to focus on anything. Anger can feel like tightness in the muscles, clenching the jaw, and heat in the face, to name a few examples.

Next, we looked at how the body speaks to us in the form of symptoms. And how we often do not make the connection from the physical symptom to the emotional trigger because it took so long for us to actually begin to listen. We sometimes recognize the symptom, but then we let the mind take over and we tell ourselves that if we honor what the body needs, that will take us off course in some way. However, the opposite is actually true. Overriding what the body is asking for is only prolonging our journey toward health.

The symptoms we experience can vary greatly from person to person and can represent just about any issue. Perhaps we catch multiple colds during a very stressful season at work or maybe we experience low back pain during a time of feeling unsupported in what we are trying to do. It could look like chronic indigestion and heartburn during a time so challenging that we are unable to digest what is happening or perhaps we lose our voice when we are afraid to speak up for ourselves.

Our body can be our best advocate, but we must learn to listen. Rarely do any of these symptoms happen “all of a sudden” and very often they can be traced back to mental/emotional triggers. One of the most helpful things we can do is to take the time to check in with the body and ask it what it is trying to tell us.

This week, give it a try. Take some time to be still, breathe, and then literally ask the body part where the symptom is presenting what it is trying to tell you. You may be surprised at the how clearly you receive an answer. You can have this conversation out loud or in written form, but give yourself permission to channel the message that you may have been avoiding. This awareness will give you the ability to make changes toward health.

I will be listening right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Time After Time

Routine. The word alone makes some people yawn with boredom. The idea of being locked in to the same ole thing time after time. But, I would like to introduce you to the idea of the freedom that comes with routine.

Throughout the day, we use our energy in many different ways for many different things. We have competing demands to be met on the physical, mental and emotional levels and all of these demands use up energy. We know that physical demands are a drain on our energy reserves, but what about highly emotional experiences and problems we are working on solving? One of the most common energy-sucking culprits we wade through every day is decision making. The number of decisions we make on a daily basis is overwhelming and by the end of the day, we are suffering from decision fatigue.

So, what does this have to do with routine? If we can arrange our daily schedule so that some of our tasks are automated, meaning that they become habits we don’t even have to think about, then we can free up energy to be used in other ways.

It really is true. The ancient science of Ayurveda teaches dinacharya- daily rhythms- as a form of energy efficiency. This is the practice of healthy daily routines to correct imbalances on the physical, mental, and emotional levels. One of the focuses of dinacharya is creating a regimen that will allow us to take a break from making so many decisions every day.

Decision fatigue is a real thing and people in sales and marketing benefit from it greatly. Why do you think the check out counter is littered with impulse buys like candy bars, magazines, bracelets, sodas, etc.? At the point of checking out, you have already made so many other decisions throughout the store that you just want a little something to make you feel better. After hours of taking care of yourself and maybe kids too, working in or outside of the home, and a day full of decisions including choosing NOT to do or eat or drink something all day (we call this willpower), we can easily fall into the trap of buying things online we don’t really need, eating junk food because it is quick and accessible, or staying up too late watching TV. All because our brains simply cannot drum up the energy to make another decision.

Have no fear, energy saving routines are here! Changing things throughout our day and our environment can set us up to alleviate some decision making. A few things to think about are:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every single day.
  • Spending a few minutes in silence checking in every morning upon waking.
  • Planning out meals for the week and batch prepping for a few days at time.
  • Eating the same thing several times during the week (ex. eating the same lunch every day or eating the same meal for dinner one day and lunch the next.)
  • Set a specific time or interittent times throughout the day to move your body every day.

Of course, creating a routine will take practice and effort at first. But, once these habits become automated, a great deal of energy is freed up to be used for clearer and more creative thinking, better coping, and more overall enjoyment of the day. It can also be helpful to find a partner or tribe working toward the same goals for accountability.

This week, check out your daily schedule and see where you can create some routine in order to find more freedom. As always, I will be practicing right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Who Do You Love When You Come Undone

Last week, I wrote about taking the time to look at our personal values. Digging in to the core beliefs that drive our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors on a daily basis. (You can refer back to that blog here.) This week, let’s continue to inspect what we value by looking at how we invest our time, energy and money.

Marketing and advertising professionals are incredible at their jobs. They spend all of their time working out ways to get us literally bought in to what they are selling. And it works! We spend our money on things that we are convinced will make us feel better about ourselves. We buy into the promise of the thin, happy person on the commercial who can balance work and kids and fitness and stress perfectly simply because they wear that brand of clothing. We buy into the idea that we can be as happy as the couple in the fairy tale picture that is painted if we just drink that brand of alcohol. We pour money out for stimulants, numbing agents, shiny objects, memberships, subscriptions, prescriptions and loads of other items that promise instant gratification or the illusion of easy change. And then we give up on that one when it doen’t work without our having to work and we repeat the cycle with the next flashy promise.

We have be duped into believing that we won’t have to invest our time, effort, and energy into changing. Only our hard earned money. What a bargain! If this one quick fix will work, then I can feel better, so I will pay top dollar for the short cut.

When we feel overwhelmed and exhausted, unable to think clearly or remember simple things; when we are snapping at our kids, our spouse, our coworkers, people we don’t know; when we are experiencing digestive issues, sleep issues, and autoimmune issues, why is it that we act as if the best we can do to make it through is to drink more of the expensive coffee during the day, to try fad diets that leave us feeling like a failure, and to take the edge off in the evenings with the help of a glass or two of our favorite numbing bevy? Is this really how we want to spend our lives?

We have actually been consistently and repetitively trained into believing that we cannot actually change things ourselves, but that the products, pills, and promises are the way to the promised land. We are successfully pouring all of our attention, energy and money into other people’s pockets one expensive impulse buy at a time. And then we feel let down, disappointed and often like a failure when it doesn’t magically work. Isn’t it time that we value ourselves enough to truly invest in ourselves?

I believe we value our health, happiness, and sanity more than all of the things we are investing in, but we aren’t sure exactly what to do. To make real and lasting changes will take a serious investment of our energy, time, and sometimes money, but the changes can last forever. It won’t be easy and we will have to stick with it because actual changes are not instant.

We must be brave enough to take a long and discerning look at our lifestyle and learn how to make the changes to support better sleep, weight loss if needed, reduced inflammation, a healthier immune system, improved coping, clearer thinking, and better relationships with everyone around us. And once we do, we will be living our lives according to what we value once again.

Commitment, consistency, and continuation of the changes are key to success. And sometimes this does require also investing in education, coaching, and the accountability of a group of others who are also doing the work. However, the return on investment here is well worth it.

We must also step away from the excuse that others in our lives come first because those others are negatively affected by our not being our best. Investment in others begins with investment in bettering ourselves.

When we feel we are at the end of our rope and we are desperate for our thoughts, bodies, and lives to change, who are we going to invest in? We can continue to make the quick fix and numbing companies richer and richer or we can choose to invest in ourselves and reap the benefits for years.

This week, take some time to assess how you can better invest in yourself. Ask others who are doing what you want to do how they are doing it. Reach out to coaches, therapists, trainers, etc. and ask about the time and money they know it takes to make real and lasting change.

I will be doing the work right along with you. (And I would be happy to do the work with you as your coach- simply reach out to me and we will set up a time to talk.)

Chat again soon,

k

Strength, Courage and Wisdom

Values. What we hold to be most important; what we deeply believe in; our guiding principles. A value is a way of being or believing that gives direction to our speech, behaviors, and thoughts. Our values drive how we live our lives. They are our WHY.

When we are in touch with our values, we know who we are and we have the freedom to move into the world from that stable place. We can choose the words, actions, and life direction that will support who we want to be and we can feel good about it. We can also find the jobs, people, and places that feel in alignment with what we deeply believe. When we are out of touch with what we value, we experience unease and discomfort in who we are. We fail to get the results we want and we lose sight of who we want to be and how to get there.

Sometimes in life, we live outside of our values. We act in ways that do not align with what we believe, we allow things to occur that do not feel good, or we say things that are the opposite of what we really believe in an effort to try to fit in. We make choices every day to live in integrity with our values or not. When we are acting out of alignment with our core values, our mind and body will reflect that.

When we are anxious, hurt, or feeling threatened, we can also find ourselves dropping our values and acting wildly different than the person we want to be out of fear and/or protection. But then afterward, we feel crummy and we often have to go back and deal with other issues that were created- in relationships with others- when we were acting out of integrity with our own beliefs.

Life is challenging and we must carry a clear sense of our values with us so that we can overcome the difficulties that will arise. We must re-evaluate what is important to us regularly. Revisiting our values, redefining who we want to be, and sharing those values with the people close to us will help us feel more fulfilled in our lives.

Defining our personal values will help us to more easily live our lives as the person we want to be. Clarifying values in a marriage or family will help to get everyone involved on the same page and will alleviate issues created by moving against each other. Solidfying the values of a business helps to build on the original inspiration for the company, attract employees to uphold the values, and to reach the intended audience.

This work is deep and vulnerable, but it is the most powerful work we can do to get in touch with living our lives as our essential and authentic self. When we take the time to define our core values and live mindfully in accordance with them, we can more easily reach our goals and live the life that feels good to us.

Take some time to explore your personal values. Assess if you are living in a way to support what you believe. Investigate if your work feeds into or on your values and how that feels. Discuss your values with those close to you and create common value statements together.

There are many values and many values assessments available for free online. Here is the link to one by Darren Hardy:
http://joelboggess.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Core-Values-Worksheet.pdf

Give it a try. And then reassess later to change them as it feels right. Write your top two or three down and post them where you can see them frequently. Discuss your values with your friends and family and share the assessment with them. Imagine a world full of people living in alignment with their core values. That sounds nice.

I will be reassessing my values right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

I Saw The Sign

Have you ever felt as if you were trying to balance more than one you? Like there is a part of you that cares greatly what others think and values what you are “supposed” to do with your life and then there is also a deeper part of you that longs to do what just feels right for you?

In her book Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck describes these two parts of ourselves as the “Social Self” and the “Essential Self”. She tells us that the Essential Self is the true and natural expression of our essence and that it directs us toward our true calling in this life. Our Social Self is the product of domestication and training in our lives by our family, culture, community, society, etc. Our Social Self will help us get to our true calling, but it cannot find the way on its own.

The problems arise when we defer to our Social Self and the Essential Self is silenced. In this situation, we can find ourselves living a life of doing what others think we should do and missing out on what would be truly fulfilling for us. But, don’t get me wrong, we do need the Social Self so that we can function in society with others and have the skills to follow the longings of our Essential Self.

When we are living from the Social Self, we are concerned with the view from the outside and we are often in a state of contraction as we are attempting to shape ourselves into something other than what we deeply desire. If we can relax into the Essential Self and allow it to direct us in our lives, we can find more joy and contentment as we experience a life that soothes our soul.

So, how do we find balance between the two and how do we know which we are currently following? For some, it is obvious, but for others, we have been listening to our Social Self for so long that it is difficult to see that we are not honoring the desires of our Essential Self. Have hope. Our mind and body consistently send us signs to let us know if we are wandering away from the Essential Self or moving toward it.

When we are living our lives out of sync with our Essential Self, our mind and body will try to tell us to change course by making things a bit more difficult. One sign to look for is feeling drained and exhausted when going to a job or situation that is not in alignment with our Essential Self. We may feel sluggish and drained when going to work and then experience a burst of energy at the end of the day and on weekends.

Another sign to look for would be frequent illness and difficulty remembering things or thinking clearly. When we are moving away from our Essential Self, our body is in stress response. This means that proper function of our immune system is supressed and our brains are in survival mode just trying to make it through the day. We are working against our ability to thrive.

Regarding our attempts to be socially involved with people who will pull us further away from our Essential Self, we have a built-in ability to sabotage those relationships from getting off the ground. We seem to lose all ability to interact with tact or grace with those people. Have you met someone you thought would help you out professionally only to act like you have never been out in public before? And then later find out that the person you were attempting to be involved with acted in a way that would have gone completely against your beliefs and values? You can thank your Essential Self for that.

If we can start to tune in to these signs and see them as such rather than judging ourselves for not being able to force things that work against our Essential Self, we can live a life of joy and fulfillment. Of course, it takes time and practice to really get in touch with all of the ways that we are naturally directed toward our Essential Self, but it’s definitely worth it.

So, start to take inventory. Notice when your mind and body are working against what you are trying to do and assess if that is really the direction your soul is longing to go in.

I will be practicing right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

We’ll Rise Up

You want to help people feel better. I get it. Perhaps you are in a helping profession, but perhaps you are a helper to your family, coworkers, or friends. In the helping professions, wanting others to feel their best is what drives us- seeing others learn how to help themselves and feel better in their bodies, minds, and lives. But, as a helper, we run the risk of burning out if we do not focus our attention on taking care of ourselves first. Believe me. From personal experience, I can tell you all about burnout and how it effects every aspect of your life.  

As a former sexual abuse trauma counselor for children and teens, I had a choice to make. I could make some major changes in how I took care of myself or I could live a life full of compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, inflammation, poor coping and numbing, and damaged relationships. For burnout prevention and healing, self-care and daily habits are key.

Burnout is a term that has been thrown around a lot in the last few years, but in the helping profession, it is seen as a very serious issue that can require a long, slow journey to heal. Research in the field of mental health shows that the probability of burnout for professionals is pretty bleak: “as many as 2 out of 3 mental health workers may be experiencing high levels of burnout.” Burnout is also a state of being that does not just happen overnight. It is a slow, divisive, and non-discriminating process that will steal joy, passion, and energy.

It can feel selfish as a helper to express when we need time to take care of ourselves. We have dedicated our time and energy to helping others. But, we also know (and we often say it to our clients) that if we don’t help ourselves, we can’t help anyone else. In the medical field, we are seeing that burnout occurs due not only to the demands of caring for the high numbers of people in need, but also to the high expectations that are placed on doctors and nurses to be able to push through and handle erratic hours, inconsistent meal times, and the physical demands of the job. However, anyone in any helping and wellness role is also at risk for burnout if helping others takes priority over self-care. Taking time regularly to check in, notice what the body is asking for, and scheduling self-care will allow all helping professionals to keep going at optimal levels.

Practicing dinacharya, an Ayurvedic term for daily habits to align our bodies with nature, is an effective way to overcome and prevent burnout as we engage in the crucial practice of uncompromising self-care. Studies done on burnout recovery/prevention and the recommendations made for doctors, nurses, and mental health therapists all fall into line with these habits of dinacharya. Giving ourselves permission to focus on getting our minds and bodies back into sync with nature’s rhythm is just what the doctor (or mental health professional) ordered. Once we do that, we can more effectively help others to do the same.  

Let’s take a look at the recommendations for burnout recovery and prevention and how those recommendations align with practicing the ancient science of dinacharya:

  1. Get enough sleep. When I was acting as a sexual abuse trauma counselor in a residential treatment facility for youth, I was emotionally and physically exhausted every day, but I could not sleep. My nervous system was fried and my poor sleep hygiene habits made “winding down” nearly impossible. Honoring the evening energy, reducing stimulating input like electronics and caffeine, and going to bed early (by 10 pm) teaches us how to honor the body’s natural rhythm and to take advantage of the brain’s ability to produce hormones in support of restful sleep. This will all set us up for feeling and thinking our best the next morning.
  2. Make exercise a priority. Moving the energy in the body can help us to better cope with mental, emotional, and physical stress. Short bouts of exercise throughout the day can help to balance anxious energy, clear stagnation, focus the perspective, and allow a time-out from everything else that is going on. And finding our own version of daily exercise- including mode and intensity- can help us to find more joy in moving our bodies, thus increasing consistency and longevity.
  3. Eat whole, nutrient-filled foods. Plant Based Diet teaches us about using food as fuel and focusing on feeding our cells with prana-filled plants and well-sourced, organic meats (if meat is in our diet). In addition, Earlier Lighter Dinner teaches us to work with our body’s ability to digest during daylight hours and to assimilate the food we take in by matching our eating times with our digestive system’s rhythm. Finally, the habit of Healthier Eating Guidelines educates us on eating seasonally and giving our digestive system- and our nervous system- a break between meals.
  4. Meditate. When our nervous system is fried and our minds seem to be in overdrive, meditation can seem challenging, but it is imperative to help us reboot and begin to rebuild. The good news is that there are many different types of meditation, so again, we want to find the version that fits us the best. Research shows that the benefits of meditation are many, including rewiring the brain, increasing calm, reducing inflammation, and directing us toward more happiness.
  5. Take a break from technology. The amount of stimulation our brains are receiving from electronic devices is becoming an addiction that is training us into distraction and anxiety. Both meditation and creating a sweet night time routine in alignment with our body’s need to wind down correlate with calming the nervous system and supporting better sleep, focus/attention, and emotional regulation. Find more calm and stillness by unplugging.
  6. Look for opportunities for self-discovery and nurture a positive view of yourself. In the habit of Self-Massage, we are learning how to literally get in touch with ourselves and to become friends with our bodies. We are learning self-love and nurturing ourselves with both self-compassion and oil. With the habit of self-massage, we have an opportunity for self-discovery built right in to our daily schedule. This habit is extremely healing for the nervous system and supports recovery from trauma, burnout, and chronic stress.
  7. Setting boundaries, using support, and reframing one’s view of the work to find more meaning can all be addressed in the habit of Easeful Living. As humans raised in our competitive and judgmental society, we often take on the belief that things “have to be” difficult and that we will only be “good enough” when something outside of us occurs or deems that we are. Recognizing how we make things harder on ourselves can shift everything. Giving in to impossible expectations, allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of, and putting the job before ourselves can lead to burn out quickly. We can begin to isolate and feel like no one else could possibly understand. When we are burned out and feeling fried, it can also be difficult to see that we are making a difference in what we are doing and to find the meaning in continuing at all. Taking care of ourselves first, reaching out to make connection with others, and reframing our perspective around finding value in our work all come when we believe that we can live with more ease.

Regardless of the exact helping role we are in, attending to our own needs is required to be able to effectively attend to the needs of others. In addition to the habits of dinacharya, things like spending time in nature, scheduling time for activities that bring joy, and connecting with others who can relate to what we are experiencing are all helpful ways to stoke the inner fire of joy and health without burning it out.

We must remember that burnout didn’t happen overnight and it certainly won’t be resolved overnight. Using the practice of Kaizen- small continuous improvement- allows us to take it one step at a time and to witness the small changes adding up to big progress.

If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout, you are not alone and things can get better. These habits helped me to heal and they are what I coach others through. Contact me and we can discuss shaping your daily habits around self-care and healing. Even the smallest of steps can begin to change everything. Have hope.   

I will be taking the journey right along side you.

Chat again soon,

k

Maybe It’s Time

Spring is a time of renewal, rebirth, and growth. A time to assess who we have been and begin to plan for who we are becoming. We must be brave enough to look at our trajectory and reroute in order to move in the direction we truly desire.

We must uncover the patterns that we may have become accustomed to. Patterns can develop in our physical bodies (what we are eating and how we are digesting), our mental habits (our thinking patterns and self-talk), our emotional reactions (being swept away by emotion before thinking of how we want to respond), and our use of vital energy throughout the day (things like rest and movement). Our future depends on our ability to recognize if the patterns we are immersed in are taking us toward who we want to be and how we want to feel or if they are keeping us stuck.

Over time, our patterns can become an inefficient use of our energy. Perhaps the habit served us at one time, but has not been reassessed for efficiency or applicability in the present. We may fall into doing things that seem convenient or that delay the inevitable. Or maybe we do things simply because that’s how we have “always done them”. Using our energy in this way often sets us up to have to go back later and undo what we have done as it has taken us way off course.

In yoga, one of the ethical teachings is called Brahmacharya (bra-mah-CHAR-ya) and it is all about allocation of resources. Brahmacharya calls us to assess how we are using our energy throughout the day and if that use of energy is taking us down the path toward who we want to become. As we assess, if we determine that our energy is not being used in ways to increase health and happiness, it’s time for some spring cleaning.

As we move into warmer weather and have the need for fewer layers,
we become acutely aware of the extra weight we may have packed on in the colder months. That extra insulation did its job when we needed it, but when our clothes from last summer are tighter than we had hoped, we can see the need to make a change. In Ayurveda, we recommend a cleanse in the spring to help the body let go of the excess that has been stored up and to prepare for the next season of our life and then a shift in what we are eating to support the season.

But, why stop at the physical body? Let’s take a deeper look.

Our mental patterns can get in the way of change on every level if we allow them. If we are highlighting past failures, expecting the worst, or using mantras of how we are unworthy of love or acceptance, success and happiness will be hard to come by. It’s time to become aware of what is going on in our thoughts and to evaluate the usefulness of the patterns we find there. The stories we are telling ourselves are controlling our behaviors.

Next, we must become aware of emotional patterns that may be keeping us stuck. When something challenging occurs in our life, our emotions step up first and when we allow our emotions to take over, we can get swept away from our values and make choices that we aren’t proud of. Awareness is key here. We have to recognize the signs our body is sending us- how the emotion feels in the body- in order to see the emotion coming on and choose how to move forward.

And finally, we must address patterns in our daily habits where we are using our energy inefficiently. What time we do things throughout the day is very important as different energies rule within our bodies at different times of the day. If we are eating a heavy, late dinner or staying up until midnight or neglecting to make time to either move the body or to find calm and stillness, we will feel the repercussions. We can experience shifts in the physical, mental, and emotional realms when we align our daily habits with what our body needs to function its best.

Take some time this week to assess your own patterns; to determine where you could shift from being stuck in the same old rut to opening yourself for growth. There is a start up cost of time and effort, but I promise, it is worth it.

Hit me up if you need someone to chat with about the changes you are wanting to make. And I will be spring cleaning right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Can’t Stop The Feeling

In the ancient health science of Ayurveda, one of the principle teachings about our bodies is to trust the body’s wisdom and honor the urges that we have. Our bodies know what they need to do to make their way back into balance and all day, every day, they are working to find a state of homeostasis where they can perform their best.

An impulse is an ego-driven thought process in the conscious mind. It’s a quick decision that we make; a choice. But, an urge is a natural signal from the body that something needs to change in order to bring us back into balance. The body may need to expel something in the form of sneezing, peeing, pooping, passing gas, or even bursting into laughter. Or the body may need to increase something in which case we feel thirsty, we begin to yawn, or we feel very sleepy.

Allowing ourselves to feel our emotions is also a way that we can honor our body and help to keep ourselves in balance. When we refrain from allowing the body to do what it needs or to feel what it feels, we are setting ourselves up for difficulty and discomfort. We are pulling ourselves out of balance and we are denying expression of who we truly are in that moment.

Let’s take honoring ourselves one step further.

Some of the best times of our lives involve laughter, song or dance. Or all three. When we are young, we allow ourselves to dance or to sing along without any worry about what we look or sound like. But, as we grow older, we begin to worry about how we will be seen, judged, and labeled.

When we censor ourselves in an attempt to control what other people think of us, we are betraying our own authenticity, stunting creativity, and hindering joy. And we go right back to trying to fit in rather than finding where we truly belong. Laughter, song and dance are all about allowing ourselves to express what we naturally feel and to relax into a state of expansion. Restricting, controlling, and changing ourselves puts us into a state of contraction mentally and physically, and we cannot flow or grow from a state of contraction.

The health benefits of laughing are many. When we laugh, we release hormones that help us to feel good and to reduce the stress response in the brain and body. If we can find the humor in a situation, we can diffuse the tension and more frequently experience joy in our lives. Laughter is a way to connect with others and to share in healing. Research shows that even anticipating that something will be funny is chemically rewarding in the brain.

We have all experienced the power of song and how deeply we can be reached on an emotional level with the right song at the right moment. People make a living choosing songs for movies, commercials, and TV shows to create the exact emotional response they want to elicit. Music and song can lift us up or draw us down. It can inspire and motivate us or it can chill us out. The energetic and emotional power of song is undeniable.

Oh and dancing. Dancing is a dangerous subject because of the vulnerability that it can bring up. Dancing is way to really put ourselves out there unlike anything else, baring our souls and showing how our body feels called to move. Refraining from dance and censoring how we naturally want to move comes from a place of fear and trying to control how we are seen by others.

The freedom that we feel through laughter, song and dance is the true expression of expansion in our lives. When we allow ourselves to laugh, sing and dance, others often feel uncomfortable because they do not allow themselves that freedom. And from their discomfort, they criticize, judge and compare. This is where we have to choose joy over fear and bravery over comfort. This is where we have to choose ourselves.

It may sound ridiculous or scary to think of allowing yourself to burst out in laughter, to sing along with the radio, or to dance when your body feels the urge. But, the reward is vast. Choosing to be authentic in the moment will pay off and you can begin to lean into living this life as your true self. Be brave. Give it a try.

I will be trying right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

I’m Alive I’m Alive I’m Alive

When we meet someone new, we are asked what we do for a living. We then proceed to attach our identity to the job that we hold. Many times while this is happening, in the back of our minds, we are thinking about how much we dislike our job or wish that we could do something that we really enjoy.

The activities that fulfill us may not be what we do to pay the bills. Because of this, we often downplay the value of those activities and deny that they are worthy of real time and attention in our lives, all the while desperately wishing that we could spend more time doing those things.

We all contain within us gifts and talents, however, we fall victim to what we are “supposed to” be doing or how we are “supposed to” be living our lives and we begin to doubt those deep inner treasures. We doubt the innate pull toward what makes us feel best about ourselves and give in to what other people tell us. Self-doubt can paralyze and derail forward movement into what naturally feeds our soul. It causes us to stall out and to feel like something is missing.

When this happens, we minimize our own gifts and talents and focus only on what will pay the bills. Of course, the bills are important, but even more important is the feeling that we are honoring who we truly are in this life. When deny that our passions are a part of our identity, we don’t allow ourselves to really feel into being a person who feels the joy of answering the soul’s calling.

If we can tap into what makes us come alive and create the space in our lives for those things, they may well some day pay the bills. But, we must honor those things enough to continue to practice and grow them into something greater.

Even more importantly, we must honor what makes us come alive simply for that fact. If we deny ourselves the pleasure of the things we most enjoy, we can spend much of our lives feeling incomplete, frustrated, resentful, anxious, disappointed, and depressed. And I have met many people who are living this way.

The question “What do you do for a living?” should spark an answer that we are excited to give because it is regarding what makes us come alive. Maybe a better question to ask when we meet someone new is “What makes you come alive?” What do you do to be able to truly live? Maybe we work all day at a job that pays the bills, but then we come home and in the evenings and on weekends, we are able to create art that expresses our true essence.

No one else can tell you what makes you feel deeply alive. That is a message from your soul. Only you can know that. And only you can make the choice to put time and effort into growing it. When you do, you will find that joy, love, courage, and fulfillment grow and allow for more connection, better coping, and more resilience in your life.

The first step is that you must want to come alive. Rather than going through the motions every day, this is about truly living your life and feeling good because you are honoring your soul’s calling. It’s the most important work you will ever do.

If you are thinking that you don’t have time or energy to do what you love, you and I can work on the daily habits that will make that possible. Make the committment to yourself. You won’t be sorry.

I will be practicing right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Be Still and Know

If you are like me, when you think of calm and stillness, you may not immediately associate yourself with those terms. However, as a yoga instructor and teacher trainer, others often associate me with those terms. Calm and stillness are concepts that I feel I am constantly being directed back to and are most likely why I have had a 20-year love affair with yoga.

Calm is being able to take a breath before blowing up. It’s being able to assess and pause before jumping to a conclusion. It is truly cultivating the ability to respond to what is happening in our lives rather than mindlessly reacting to it. This takes not only awareness, but can also require practice.

To enable calm, we must create stillness. Stillness provides the pause in which to assess. It also creates space- an expansion within- so that we can stretch into the person we want to be.

Many of our lifestyle choices work against stillness. We are training our minds into distractability and our bodies into anxiety. And from this, we feel resistance to stillness because of the fear of stagnation, but also because in stillness there is space to see what we have been distracting ourselves from for so long. Busyness becomes a way for us to not feel just how overwhelmed, anxious, not-good-enough we may feel in our lives and in ourselves. Maintainting the busy to avoid that in itself is exhausting and anxiety provoking.

Stillness doesn’t have to mean a lack of progress. It is a way for us to allow things to settle; to create clarity. Stillness enables us to open up space in which we can become more creative, more authentic, more brave and more of who we want to be.

I cannot tell you how many times the universe has reminded me that in order to do more, I must actually do less. To achieve this, we may need to cleanse our minds, bodies, and lives of the things that are keeping us in stress response. That may mean lightening up our diets and adding in more nutrient-rich foods; it may mean lightening our workload and saying no more often; it may mean lightening our insane amount of doing and just being for a bit.

As we are moving into warmer weather, now is the perfect time to spring clean your life and add in more stillness which can lead to more calm. Whatever that looks like for you. Take some time this week to nourish yourself with more stillness.

I will be practicing right along with you as I launch into a 3-week cleanse. If you would like to know more about joining in on a group cleanse, send me a message.

Chat again soon,

k

I’m So Tired

Every day, many of us fall into the habit of trying to fit in with the socially acceptable expectation that being overscheduled and exhausted means that we are doing it right. We are praised for adding on more and more and our brains create an addiction to the chemicals of stress. We come to believe that we are supposed to be able to do all of the things without any help all while making it look like it’s a breeze.

When we are not busy every moment of the day, we are also pressured to feel unimportant and even lazy. We are trained into believing that we have to earn our worth and that it is tied to how much money we make, how many things we have, and how many tasks we can cram into one day without actually breaking down.

Busy is an odd status symbol. It is like fake designer clothing- it looks really good from the outside, but on the inside the structure is uneven, details are missing, and only the wearer knows that what others see is an illusion.

Yvonne Tally Breaking Up With Busy

What we do every single day actually shapes the mind, body, and life that we live in and it forms how we identify ourselves. If we are living in the daily habit of exhaustion, stress, overwhelm, and illusion, we are creating an identity of disconnection, fear, and blame as we struggle with feeling like an imposter.

Over time, we begin to experience things like insomnia, impaired concentration, increased illness, anger, disconnection, hopelessness, and loss of joy. And these are all signs of burnout.

We cannot expect to live this way on a daily basis, constantly hoping no one sees that we are hanging on by a thread and thinking that this is what life is “supposed” to be like. Our mental, physical, social, and spiritual health are all at stake.

So, what do we do? We break the trance. We actually schedule in time to do things that we enjoy simply for the sake of doing them (let’s call this play). We create night time routines, honor when we feel tired, and go to bed by 10 (let’s call this rest).

Play and rest actually help to combat the anxiety that we are trained into and help us to remember that we have worth simply because we are alive. They are essential to our overall health and they are how we come out of the attempt to simply survive and begin to thrive.

What if you ran an experiment for the next week? See how you feel when you go to bed by 10p every night. Try scheduling in time to do something you enjoy at least once in the next seven days. And start to assess if exhausted is really what you wanted to be when you grew up.

Putting yourself and your health before the long list of all of the things does not mean that you are lazy or selfish. It means that you are realigning your priorities to live the life that you want to live. That can take courage, but it is SO worth it. You are worth it.

I would be happy to chat with you about all of this. It’s what I do. So, feel free to shoot me a message.

I will be working to increase play and rest right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Nothing Compares To You

We are living in a society that encourages comparison. And we have the highest rates of depression and anxiety in history. Yes, I believe the two are connected. When we spend our days comparing our lives, bodies, accomplishments, etc. to what we see on social media and TV, we also spend a great deal of time feeling inadequate, cheated, disappointed, and deflated.

When we are in comparison, we are in a contracted and defensive state in our minds and bodies. This means that we cannot grow, nor can we feel free to be our authentic and original selves. We are in a state of stress in our minds and bodies and this is not a healthy place to live.

Permission to be ourselves and to creatively contribute to the world in the way that only we can do comes when we are in a state of relaxed expansion. When we can recognize that each of us has something unique to offer, we can stop comparing and start celebrating.

Comparison is a way in which we steal from ourselves and from others. It is an attempt to feel better about ourselves from a place of discontent. As we compare our lives, bodies, and situations, we are stealing from who we are and what we already have. Many times we are unfairly comparing our messy and real lives to a small sliver of someone else’s.

When we find ourselves coming up short in comparison, we often find that we are placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves and limiting our ability to grow into our own potential. When we find ourselves “better than” in comparison, we are stealing from the person we are comparing ourselves to by sending negative energy in the form of judgment, rating, and one-upmanship.

The ethical teaching in yoga called Asteya (uh-stay-uh) teaches this idea of “nonstealing” and one aspect of that teaching is recognizing when we are in the contracted state of comparison and out of gratitude. If joy is cultivated by practicing gratitude and comparison is the opposite of appreciating our lives in this moment, then, living in a state of comparison will keep us out of joy.

When we can embrace ourselves and the originality of others, we can relax into a state of creativity. When we are more creative in our lives- artistically, cognitively, socially- we experience more meaning. Imagine what it would feel like to celebrate what everyone has to offer rather than to tear each other down in a fruitless effort to feel better.

To unravel our tendency toward comparison, we must first recognize when we have fallen into the habit of looking outside of ourselves to feel good. Next, we must take a moment to practice gratitude and begin to grow joy. And finally, we must recognize our own creative and original way of living this life.

What you have to offer to the world is unique and amazing. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else to earn that. This week, open yourself to recognizing how original and creative you are and how original and creative others are as well.

I will be practicing right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

I’ve Got A Blank Space Baby

So, let’s talk about what’s going on in your head…

Our minds have a need to explain and understand everything in order for us to feel safe. This means that when we don’t know something, our minds automatically try to figure out the answer; to fill in the blank. This is based on our survival instinct as the nervous system will not relax when there is an unknown or a space to be filled in. This often presents itself as a deep need for certainty.

Simply having an answer helps to calm the reasoning and explaining brain, and in order to gain that calming benefit, it doesn’t matter if the answer is correct or not. The nervous system can relax simply from the blank being filled in. Physically, in a yoga class for example, we can gain the same relaxing effect in the nervous system when the body is propped up and gaps between the body and the floor are filled in with blankets, blocks, bolsters, etc. Again, it’s all about filling in the blank spaces.

In an effort to fill the void in our minds, we often make assumptions about others, about the world around us, and about ourselves. Once we have made the assumption, the brain then accepts that information as truth and we move forward as if we have the correct answer. We act based on this assumption and this can get us into trouble.

Have you ever made an assumption and then later found out that it was totally off base? For example, perhaps you saw an acquaintance in a store, called their name, and they just walked by like they didn’t even know you. One possible assumption would be that your acquaintance thinks they are better than you and “too good” to be seen talking to you. You then move forward as if this assumption is the truth and when you next see that acquaintance, you try not to engage, you cut your interaction short, and you may even make a remark about not having time to talk to them. When you do finally take the time to speak with the acquaintance about your experience in the store, you find out that they had in earbuds and simply did not hear nor see you there.

We also make assumptions that other people think, feel, process, and judge the way that we do. This is one reason we may be apprehensive about putting ourselves out there as our authentic selves because we know how harshly we judge ourselves and we assume that others will do the same.

So what can we do? We must gather more information to help fill in the blank rather than make the answer up in our heads. Creating our own answers is a misuse of our imagination and it more often than not leads to worry, stress, and relational issues. Gathering more information means asking for clarification, communicating openly with others, expressing your needs, and pausing rather than jumping to conclusions.

And in the meantime, we must tap in to our own intuition and trust that deep inner wisdom. This may look like meditation, prayer, breathing, journaling, walking outside, etc. Sometimes our deep inner wisdom simply tells us that we need more information and sometimes it tells us the answer. But, tuning in to all of our ways of knowing and having faith rather than making up the answer will help alleviate our need to go back and make repairs after reacting based on assumption.

Give it a try this week. Start to notice when you fill in the blank by making assumptions and pause there. Breathe. Gather more information and then move forward.

I will be practicing right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k

Latch on to the Affirmative

Did you know that love and abundance are actually boundless? I know, it sounds crazy because we, as a society, are trained into a scarcity mindset. Scarcity means “a state of short supply” and we are trained through marketing to believe that there is not enough of, well, anything really.

But, the belief that there is not enough is just not true. This way of thinking can apply to money, love, safety, happiness, certainty, trust, power, etc. Anything you can think of as holding value in your life can be viewed from a mindset of scarcity. And that breeds fear.

When we grow up in a society where we are trained to believe that we must buy products in order to “measure up” to the socially enforced standards, we can begin to believe on a deep level that not only is there not enough love, power, and money to go around, but that we are not enough.

From this fearful belief, we begin to numb ourselves, mask our feelings, and try to use “things” to feel better. We are trained into anxiety and fear and then sold the meds to address our symptoms of anxiety and fear.

Alas, have hope. You don’t have to live this way. Joy can be cultivated and the brain can be retrained. The key to unravelling the fear and scarcity is gratitude. Yes, it takes practice, but there has been a great deal of research done proving the amazing power of a gratitude practice to improve life satisfaction, happiness, joy, creativity, and reduction in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.

The word appreciate has two meanings: 1.) To have gratitude for 2.) To increase in value. So, when we appreciate what we have, we recognize that what we have is enough. And this grows satisfaction and a deep satisfaction with ourselves and our lives is joy.

“Gratitude is one of the top “strengths” of happy people. When in doubt, go to gratitude. Whenever you have spare time, immerse yourself in gratitude. Whenever your brain is wandering, experience gratitude.” (Larkin, 2008)

When we practice gratitude, we combat the fear and scarcity mindset and we increase levels of joy. Everyone can benefit from a gratitude practice and the practice can be individualized. Some ideas are: a gratitude journal, thinking of something you are grateful for upon waking, sharing something you are grateful for at dinner, ending your day with a focus on what you are grateful for, or going to gratitude when you notice you are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, fearful, etc.

Scarcity is no way to live. Grow your joy. Try it on this week and see how it feels. I am grateful to be able to share this message and for you to read my musings.

Chat again soon,

k

Tell Me Who Are You

Resilience is our ability to overcome adversity; to bounce back. And in order to become more resilient, we must have the solid foundation of knowing who we are and showing up as our authentic selves. Every day, we are receiving messages telling us who to be and how to live our lives from many different sources. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like being told what to do. In previous blogs, we have chatted about fitting in vs. belonging and being authentic and so now, it is time to ask, “Who do YOU want to be?”

This question may be overwhelming, especially if for years, we have been directed by others on whom we should be and how we should live our lives. Answering this question is a deeply important, personal, and spiritual journey that we must each embark upon to not only find fulfillment and contentment with who we truly are, but also to be resilient enough to overcome the challenges we face.

Because we are spirits living in bodies on this shared experience of being human, the spiritual journey of getting to know ourselves, honoring who we truly are, and living our lives from a place of authenticity creates the cornerstone of building resilience. Only when we have good boundaries and stand up for ourselves will we be strong enough to overcome all of life’s challenges from this deep well of inner strength.

Our ability to bounce back and authentically show up are built by having hope that we have the ability to reach the goals we have set, taking the time and attention to become critically aware of what we are experiencing and the effects the experience has on us and others, and by recognizing and letting go of the ways that we numb ourselves to what we are feeling.

Hope is actually a cognitive process that involves setting realistic goals, working to reach those goals even when it is difficult and we fail, and believing that we can actually get there. It’s all about perserverence and belief in ourselves- natural factors in our ability to overcome adversity.

Another factor in building resilience is critical awareness. This is the ability to question what we are experiencing and determine why it is happening, how it impacts us and others, and who is benefitting from what is going on. Take our society’s view of appearance and body image as an example. We may compare ourselves to unrealistic images, feel not good enough, and then buy in to the need for specific clothes or products to try to feel better about ourselves. The product industry benefits greatly from this- it’s a HUGE money maker for many. Recognizing what is happening helps us to tap back in to who authentically are and let go of unrealisitic expectations.

Finally, to build our resilience, we must be brave enough to feel all of the feelings. We have to try to lean in to feeling uncomfortable sometimes because that is how and when we grow. And in order to do this, we must resist the urge to numb ourselves (which in many ways is also a big money maker). Yes, we all numb out in some way sometimes, but when this becomes the way we attempt to cope with life, it causes bigger issues.

So, that brings us back to the question of who you want to be. When we allow external sources to shape who we are, how we feel about ourselves, and how we live our lives, we are putting ourselves at risk for things like hopelessness, powerlessness, disconnection, and fear, which all sabotage our ability to be resilient. That’s not who you want to be.

So, this week, I invite you to think about who you really want to be. Notice how you are living your life or how you are avoiding it. Take a look at how much you are controlled and directed without even noticing. And recognize that you have the power within you to make changes. I would be happy to help along the way. Reach out and we can chat about it.

I will be doing the work right along with you.

Chat again soon,

k