Finding the Light in Dark Times.

Find the lightI feel your need this week my friends and I am going to bring you as much light as I can right now.  Over the years, I have faced illness, betrayal by a friend, difficult work environments (to say the least), having literally $5 left in my account, car break downs and various other “disasters” that cost me literally thousands of dollars when I didn’t have it to my name, and that time I couldn’t move at all and considered what the point of life was if you were going to be in pain 24/7 and living as if you were dead.  << Yes.  That was me.

What is the one thing that I held on to during those times?   The thought that life had a purpose for me….that I was being tested and measured…and that I really was going to come out on the other side of this stronger than before.

I had faith that there was a plan.  Did I know the plan?  Hell no.  I was apparently going to be the last to know.  But I sensed there was something greater than me at work and through me, things were going to change.

How I found the Light:

  1. I began my new morning ritual with gratitude.  I can not even began to describe the pain level to you at this moment.  It was beyond my skin feeling like it was on fire (it prickled and burned even when no one was touching me), my bones ached to the very core, and I couldn’t sleep at all.  There was no position to sleep in that didn’t bring me more pain.  My gut was distended from autoimmune, and my brain never stopped registering a pain response.  What did I have to be thankful for?  Lots.  LOTS.  So I started there.   Thank you for this new day.  Then I would put one foot over the bed and as the pain flared through my hip, I would step down and utter thanks to the heavens.  I continued this daily…no matter what.
  2. I began to focus on what I had….not what was missing.  <<< This was huge.  I worked my mind to abundance thinking, which was new to me.  I will never forget the day someone used that word.  As in my cup runneth over.  I am full of bountiful blessings.  You see this person who said that to me, made incredible amounts of money.  I literally had like $5 because I had to leave my job, teaching, due to my pain level and autoimmune responses being off the chart.  So I began to think about what I had.  I would list it in my head.  Then I would think about what I could do with the “gifts” I had.  And I gave as much as I could to others.
  3. I stayed as present as possible.  This was the opposite of what me, fantasy world living girl, wanted to do.  I wanted to escape in my head or in my books, where things were easy.   I started paying attention to little things.  Leaves.  Sunlight filtering in.  Tucking my kids in.  My husband’s strong hug when he was just as scared as I was.  Coffee.  The warmth of the cup.  My parents.  Knowing that I could call them, but trying not to cry if things were bad.  Just simply putting one foot in front of the other until that was all I could do.  And lastly, the day that I found the breath.  Through yoga.  I learned how to stay present through the haze of pain in yoga.
  4. I learned how to fall apart…better.  There are tantrums.  There are crying spells.  And then there are “why me” moments.  The silent, soul racking sobs that make you think your entire world is ending and you can’t control what is happening.  The truth is, you can’t control what is happening and you never could.  Not even when things were great.  So this is no different.  I learned to get through those moments and then say to myself “snap out of it” <<< Yes.  I imagined Cher slapping me.  Then I would say what tiny thing CAN I control right now?  usually it was getting out of my damn pajamas and struggling to take a shower.  When that was over, I would feel better and I would see what reserve energy I had left to go to the store.  If I manged those two small things, I felt better.  I could have tea and then write.  This is all in the early days of this blog, but the moments were there when I learned how to “life” better.  I learned to lean into it.
  5. I could control who I was around.  If I had to look at pitying eyes one more time I was going to slap someone.  And if anyone said that it happened for a reason I wanted to stab them.  << Note, no one was actually harmed.  I did however, cut some people off instead.  Anger was a huge part of who I was.  At that time.  And yoga helped me learn to control that to the best of my ability.  I started being around people who could lift me up and meet me where I was that day.  If I didn’t have those people, I searched for them.  I made my own world.  And I didn’t regret the choices I had to make when people were not able to support me.  When people were too busy condemning or judging how I got through this, they went into the boundary holding area Most of them never came back from that area.  The ones who did admitted they were sorry…and a few more later went through difficult experiences and admitted they had no idea until they too were tested.
  6. I created my own feelings of happiness and peace.  I prayed, I read, I meditated, I did the yoga, but it was entirely up to me to be the one to move forward.  No one could do that for me.  I was given the ability to be stronger than my problems, and no one else could turn that key.  No one except for me.  I didn’t wait for a doctor to magically cure me as there was no cure for my incurable diseases…but I also didn’t settle for that answer.  I made my own way.
  7. I used my lessons to teach others.   You can ask my yoga brothers and sisters.  I couldn’t hold myself up in downdog for more than a few seconds when I first started Yoga Teacher Training.  How was I going to get through 200 hours?  Scorpio hard-headed power activate.  I learn to use the word “modify” in a sentence.  It meant for me to do what I could with the pose and use props, blankets, blocks and take a child’s pose as needed.  I finished my 200 hours and went on to take yoga for arthritis and pain.  I then combined every single lesson I had ever learned last year, at this very time, and take some money I had saved and invest in my business to help others.  I launched the 30 Days of Gratitude Group, which then became the foundation for my Head|Heart|Health Club.  I learned how to help others through their own “pain”, whether it was mental or physical, and take one day at a time. 

Need more help?  Use the search bar on the right and type in the word you are looking for.  Want to watch my videos?  << Go there.

5 Ways to Find Your Calm in a Sea of Stress

5 Ways to Find Your Calm in a Sea of StressLife in unpredictable.  As surely as you are singing along with Frank Sinatra, about “That’s Life”, you will find that you are either riding high or feel shot down just like in his lyrics.

That’s life (that’s life) that’s what people say
You’re riding high in April
Shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune
When I’m back on top, back on top in June

I said, that’s life (that’s life) and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks
Stompin’ on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down
‘Cause this fine old world it keeps spinnin’ around

This fine old world keeps going though, doesn’t it?  I have been noticing more people reaching out to me during my live talks on my page, so I know that you need to hear this right now.

I am going to cut right to the heart of it for you.  I understand living stressed, pay check to pay check, with illness, wondering how in the hell you are going to get through the latest thing that life threw at you.  That moment where you look up and you say “Really?”  That moment where you ask why me, why now?  I have been there when the despair threaten to pull me under, but on that last gulp of air, as I came up from the bottom, I said not this girl.  Not now, not ever.

And that’s where the magic happens.  On that gulp as you decide this isn’t how it’s going to play out.  I am offering you a few extra gulps of air here so you can make it to the raft.  You can do this.

5 Ways to Find Your Calm in a Sea of Stress:

  1. Find your center.  In yoga, there is a point in the class when the teacher directs your attention inward.  I want you to do that in times of great stress.  It does take awareness to detect when you are not yourself and therefore need to re-center.  I like to connect to the emotional center and calm myself by placing my hand over my heart.  If I am barefoot, I stretch my toes and spread through all four corners of my feet.  I imagine my heart radiating the pink light of love and then washing over me to calm my soul.  There are many ways to find your center, but just visualize you are calm and take three deep breaths.
  2. Stay present with the breath.  This is one of the best tools in your almost empty tool-box.  I talked about your tool-box in length last week, and I want to give you something else to put in there.  Observe the breath.  Is it shallow?  Then start to slow it down and breathe deeply for a full round of three.  Say to yourself “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”  If you want to breathe deep into your belly, put your hand over your navel area and breathe into your hand.  Feel it rise and fall.  Just be present in this moment.
  3. Call in the mantra or affirmation.  In my Club, we have a focus for each month.  This month is positivity, gratitude and raising the vibration of energy that we can tap into when it is needed.  Our goal is to maintain our own energy source without being depleted by outside sources.  The best mantra when you are having a rough time is “This thought is a choice.”  You then direct your thought to a positive choice if you were going down a path that made you think negative thoughts.  Another great one is “It all works out and it will get done.” That is for those days you have taken on too much.  To make your own mantra right now, tap into what is causing you stress, then think about the exact opposite feeling you wish to create and call that in with a mantra.  “I am healing.” is the one I used for over a year when I was in pain 24/7.  One day, I woke up after doing yoga the night before and I began to realize that there was little to no pain left in my body.  Mantras can be a powerful force to direct your thoughts.
  4. Journal your way into gratitude.  When I was at my lowest point, and the pain was greater almost than my will, notice I said almost as that was when I resurfaced and took a large gulp to get to the life raft, anyway, that was when I started my mental butt-kicking with journaling.  Many of you know that I turned that into my program to teach others how to do the same thing called the Head|Heart|Health Club.  I was going to save as many people as I could who needed that extra gulp.  I began to notice all of the good in my life at one of the most excruciating times ever that I had personally faced.  It was literally a life changing process. Gratitude is one of the most medicinal emotions we can feel. It elevates our moods and fills us with joy. ~Sara Avant Stover
  5. I did the yoga.  On days I wanted to sit in my pajamas and never come out…on days I wanted to curl up in the fetal position, I switched to child’s pose instead.  The benefits of yoga truly changed my level of appreciation for my body and all that it was capable of doing even in the darkest moments of pain.  And so I gifted myself with continued studies and learned yoga for arthritis and pain.  I began to teach others who were in pain and by sharing my gifts, I lightened my darkest hours.  I also did the hard stuff and recorded myself teaching 8 beginning yoga poses as well as chair modifications for my Club and the benefits of doing these poses daily.

Articles that you might like to go with this:

5 Ways to Find Your Calm in a Sea of Stress

The Art of Doing Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing

The Art of Doing Nothing

Guest post by: Leo Babauta

Sure, we all know how to do nothing. We all know how to lay around and waste time. But many of us are too busy to do it much, and when we do it, our minds are often on other things. We cannot relax and enjoy the nothingness.

Doing nothing can be a waste of time, or it can be an art form. Here’s how to become a master, and in the process, improve your life, melt away the stress and make yourself more productive when you actually do work.

Start small
Doing nothing, in the true sense of the word, can be overwhelming if you attempt to do too much nothing at once. Do small nothings at first. Focus on 5-10 minutes at a time, and start your practice sessions in a safe place — at home, not at work or in a busy public place. You may also not be ready to do nothing in the middle of nature, so do it in your bedroom or living room. Find a time and place where there are not many distractions, not much noise, not a lot of people to bother you.

Shut off all distractions — TV, computer, cell phones, regular phones, Blackberries, and the like. Doing nothing is hard when our communications gadgets are calling at us to do something.

Now, close your eyes, and do nothing. Yes, the smart-asses out there will say you’re doing something — you’re sitting there or laying there, closing your eyes. But we mean doing nothing in the sense that if someone were to call us up and ask what we’re doing, we say “Oh, nothing.” Don’t let them call you up, though. They are trying to distract you.

After 5-10 minutes of doing, nothing, you can quit, and go do something. But try to do this every day, or as much as possible, because it is not possible to become a master without practice.

Breathing
The first place to start in the quest for mastery over this art is in your breathing. If this sounds suspiciously like meditation, well, cast those suspicions out of your mind. We are not here to do suspicion — we are doing nothing.

Start first by breathing slowly in, and then slowly out. Now closely monitor your breath as it enters your body, through your nose, and goes down into your lungs, and fills your lungs. Now feel it as it goes out of your body, through your mouth, and feel the satisfying emptying of your lungs.

Do this for 5-10 minutes, if you can. Practice this as you can. When you start thinking about other things, such as how great that darn Zen Habits blog is, well, stop that! Don’t beat yourself up about it, but bring your thoughts back to your breathing every time.

Relaxing
An important part of doing nothing is being able to completely relax. If we are tense, then the doing of the nothing is really for naught. Relaxing starts by finding a comfortable place to do your nothing — a soft chair, a plush couch, a well-made, clean bed. Once you’ve found this spot, lie in it, and wiggle around to make it fit your body better. Think of how a cat lies down, and makes itself comfortable. Cats are very, very good at doing nothing. You may never approach their level of mastery, but they make for great inspiration.

Next, try the breathing technique. If you are not completely relaxed by now (and a short nap would be a great indication of relaxation), then try self massage. Yes, massage is much better when administered by other hands, but self massage is great too. Start with your shoulders and neck. Work your way up to your head and even your face. Also do your back, and legs and arms. Avoid any areas that might lead to doing something (although that can be relaxing too).

Yet another great way of relaxing is an exercise where you tense each muscle in your body, one body part at a time, and then let the tensed muscle relax. Start with your feet, then your legs, and work your way up to your eyebrows. If you can do the top of your head, you may be too advanced for this article.

Once you are relaxed, see if you can relax even more. Try not to relax so much that you lose control of your bodily fluids.

Bathing – an advanced stage
Those who are in the beginning stages of the Art of Doing Nothing should not attempt this stage. But once you’ve become proficient at the above steps, the stage of the Bath can be pretty great.

The bath must be nice and hot. Not lukewarm, but hot. Bubbles are also required, even if you are a man who is too manly for this. Just don’t tell any of your guy friends. Other bath accessories, such as a loofah sponge, or bath gels, or potpourri, are very optional (editor’s note: think hilarious Friends episode).

Again, you must have all distractions shut off. Bathing is also best done if you are alone in the house, but if not, everyone else in the house must know that you CANNOT be disturbed, even if the house is burning down. If they break this sacred rule, you must turn upon them with the Wrath of Hell(tm).

Step into your bath, one foot at a time, very slowly. If your bath is properly hot, it is best if you get into it an inch at a time. For more sensitive body parts, such as the crotchal area, it is best to squeeze your eyes shut tight and slowly lower yourself into the steaming water despite all instincts to flee. Once you are fully immersed (and you should go completely under, head included, at first), close your eyes, and feel the heat penetrating your body.

You may begin to sweat. This is a good thing. Allow the sweat to flow. You may need a glass of water as the sweat could dehydrate you. A good book is another great way to enjoy your bath. Allow your muscles to be penetrated by the heat, to be relaxed completely, and feel all your worries and stresses and aches and inner turmoil flow out of your body into the water.

A hot bath is even more awesome if followed by a bracing cold shower. Either way, get out of the bath once the water is no longer warm and your skin is very raisin-like.

Tasting and feeling
Doing nothing is also great when accompanied by very good beverages or food. Good tea or coffee, wine, hot cocoa, and other sensual beverages go very well with the Art. It’s best to take these beverages by themselves, with no food, and without a book or other distractions. Focus on the liquid as you sip it slowly, savoring every bit of the flavor and texture and temperature in your mouth before swallowing, and feeling the swallow completely. Close your eyes as you do this. Truly enjoy this drink.

Foods are also great: berries, rich desserts, freshly made bread, the best … soup … ever, or whatever it is that you love. Be sure you eat it slowly, savoring every bite. Chew slowly, and close your eyes as you enjoy the food. Feel the texture in your mouth. It is bliss!

Doing nothing in nature

Once you’ve passed the above stages, it is time to practice this gentle art out in nature. Find a peaceful place — in your front yard if that’s peaceful, a park, the woods, at the beach, a river, a lake — places with water are excellent. Places out of reach of the sounds of traffic and city life are best.

Out here in nature, you can practice the art for 20 minutes, an hour, or even longer. There are fewer distractions, and you can really shut yourself off from the stresses of life. Don’t just let your mind wander everywhere — focus on the natural surroundings around you. Look closely at the plants, at the water, at the wildlife. Truly appreciate the majesty of nature, the miracle of life.

Incorporating the Art in daily life
This is the final stage of mastering this Art. Don’t attempt it until you’ve practiced and become competent at the above stages.

Start by doing nothing while you are waiting in line, at the doctor’s office, on a bus, or for a plane. Wait, without reading a newspaper or magazine, without talking on the phone, without checking your email, without writing out your to-do list, without doing any work, without worrying about what you need to do later. Wait, and do nothing. Concentrate on your breathing, or try one of the relaxation techniques above. Concentrate on those around you — watch them, try to understand them, listen to their conversations.

Next, try doing nothing when you drive. Yes, you must drive, but try to do nothing else. Don’t listen to music or news or an audiotape. Don’t multi-task. Don’t talk on your cell phone, don’t eat, and don’t do your makeup. Just drive. Concentrate on your driving, look at the things you are passing, and feel your breathing. Relax yourself, and don’t worry about the other drivers (but don’t crash into them!). Drive slowly, going easy on the gas and brake pedals. This technique has a great side-effect: better gas mileage.

Last, try doing nothing in the middle of chaos, in your workplace or other stressful environment. Just shut everything out, close your eyes, and think about your breathing. Try a relaxation technique. Do this for 5-10 minutes at a time, building up to 20-30 minutes. If you can do this, in the middle of a stressful day at work or with the kids, you will allow yourself to focus more fully on the task at hand. You will be relaxed and ready to concentrate, to bring yourself into a state of flow. (Warning: Doing nothing could get you in trouble with your boss, so be careful! But if it makes you more productive, you boss might not mind.)

Finally, the Art of Doing Nothing cannot be mastered overnight. It will take hours and hours of practice, of hard work (doing nothing isn’t easy!). But you will enjoy every minute of it! Try it today.

Want more tips on staying focused in your life?  See “Minutes of Mindfulness” every Monday.

5 Tips For Picking Yourself Back Up Again.

5 tips for picking yourself back up againI sat with my head in my hands and I thought “I don’t know how to write anything today, but people need me.”  I said that yesterday too as I did the brief healing Live chat.  And I thought it the day before right as I went on to be interviewed live from my business mentor in England.

Last week my feed was up and down on social media (when is it not, really?), and I said to myself “Aimee, don’t get involved with this stupidity.  Move on.”  I don’t listen to myself because I have this inner sense of if I can help, I am going to say something.  So I just told two people to knock off the arguing on public forums, go have a coffee and a hug.  They were better than that.

So do you feel close to an emotional melt-down this week?  Have you already had one?  As we fluctuate between feeling good and then feeling low, depending on the stimulus of our environment, I want you to really step back and become an observer as best you can.  Picking yourself up again over and over can be a process that wears you out.  So how can we do it and maintain that level of balance of balance in life?

5 Tips For Picking Yourself Back Up Again (and staying there):

  1. Do the impossible.  Pause.  I know that we all wish we had a pause button, but I want you to operate as if you had a remote with you at all times.  I did this yesterday and it was right before I made the decision to go ahead and read something that would upset me, but it was time to get it over with and then feel it.  I paused knowing that I needed to just get it over with, read it, process it as best I could, and move on.
  2. Allow yourself to let it out.  So there I was, in my sweaty yoga clothes, knowing that it was time to feel sadness, but that after I got it all out, I was going to go get cleaned up and move on.  I couldn’t allow myself to stay there, make a blanket fort, and hide out with a bar of chocolate and reruns of the Gilmore Girls.  Hoping that this time, Rory says yes to Logan.  Whatever your go-to thing is, running, yoga, journaling, do whatever it is you need to do to let it all out at that time.  Then step back, take a look at your emotions all out there and think “There.  That wasn’t that bad.”  And move on.  << tips for later on moving forward
  3. Mini-goals are key.  I teach the methods of mindfulness, pausing, and setting yourself up for success by choosing small, achievable goals.  Think baby steps.  Each new month, my Club starts off with what we want to achieve this month.  So say you had a set-back that was at work.  The boss gave you a task and you just dropped the ball.  Think about what happened in terms of small goals.  Did you put dates on the calendar for when things should be done?  Did you write yourself sticky notes that you could crumble up satisfyingly (I like to do that)?  Or make a list that you could strike things off when completed?  I secretly do this as well.  How are you organizing your planner for success?  I also teach this in my wellness course as it’s important for exercise, weight loss and so much more.
  4. Give thanks.  This is probably harder than any of the other tasks because you are down there in the depths of despair and you are feeling alone, isolated perhaps, and maybe even misunderstood.  I want you to take 3 deep breaths and place your hand on your heart with each breath.  Do you feel that?  That’s connection.  You are connected to a greater purpose and you have a new chance to get back up again.  Gratitude can actually interrupt patterns of anxiety.  If you don’t know how to begin a gratitude practice, I invite you to start a journal. << tips for later on how to start
  5. Rest.  Unplug.  I know that feel like we have to stay connected to the world, but sometimes, unplugging and going to bed early is the best thing for our bodies.  Take a bath, read a book, journal, but make it a point to do something good for you.  Getting a good night’s sleep can help you see things in a better light.

In a world that is constantly sending us too many signals, some of us more than ever need to create that safe space to relax and unwind.  If you are highly sensitive, make sure you are surrounding yourself with the types of energies you want to attract in your life that will help you fill up your cup.  If you are looking for a place that supports you, helps you with daily prompts, a closed group, and 24/7 access to journaling, mindful tips, meditation and bonus yoga poses (that are chair friendly), check out the Head|Heart|Health Club << We’d love to have you.

The Uncomfortable Feeling of “Soul Growth”

As you start to dig deeper into your soul, undoubtedly, things will come up that you thought you had dealt with before.  Your head is feeling a bit groggy as you wake up, and you are trying to remember the last bit of a dream.  The thing is, it’s the same old thought pattern you’ve had before and it isn’t doing you a bit of good now.  Not when there is nothing at all you can do to go back and change the past.

It’s unsettling, really.  There is an eerie quietness around you, almost like the calm before the storm and things keep coming up.  There is a high stress level, or type of anxiety that you can feel.  It’s palpable.  Your relationships feel incomplete.  Almost as if you are going through the motions.  There is so much more to the world than this masquerade, really.

At times you might fluctuate between feeling fulfilled to feeling empty and drained.  Unfortunately, you feel drained more often than not.  Friendships don’t have the luster they once held for you…they might, if you could really feel connected to them instead of withdrawn, but you know that they are not being open with you, and so you too, must hold part of yourself back as well.

What happens during this growth process?

When we are in a place of “growth”, it can often be interpreted as struggle.  We feel confused, drained, unsure and perhaps even lonely in this place for a while.  We feel as if this hellish stage is going to last forever, but the truth is, it is only a moment out of our vast experiences and it propelling us ahead to learn more.  Sometimes, you try to compare your growth to another person’s and that just makes things worse.

It’s like comparing your DNA, the thing that makes you “you”, to anyone else in the world.  It’s just not realistic.  We might want to hit the fast forward on this uncomfortable phase, but in no way shape or form is that going to help us get to the growth that is specific to our soul.  It’s almost like it was preordained.  Wait a minute?  What if it was?

How we can get comfortable during this process:

  1. Be aware of your thoughts.  You might experience some strange recurring thoughts during this time.  One of the best ways to deal with the shifting thoughts is just being aware that they are there, and then letting them go.  If you notice yourself staying stuck in the past or even the future, get realigned with the present moment by focusing on your breath.  I teach different breath work exercises to my Club, but the easiest is just holding your hand on your belly, right above your belly button and feeling the breath rise and fall as you repeat the words “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”
  2. Let the tension out.  Pain is there to remind us that we are holding something in.  I have been there, and I know that the last thing anyone in pain ever feels like doing is moving, but you have to really (my story here if you want a brief overview).  As we work on getting the stagnation out of our lymphatic system, we start to feel better and movement helps us tremendously.  Even baby steps can help you as you move a little bit each day like I go over in 4 Weeks to Wellness, but you do want to move.  remember that struggle proceeds the growth.  Pain proceeds the change that you are making.  I also knew that if I was going to be in pain daily anyway, that what harm could it hurt trying out a new plan?  Hint:  it worked.
  3. Try to keep up a routine.  It is at this point we get so very tried.  I know.  Maybe we feel the need to purge (yes!! That’s moving stagnant energy too and is good!), maybe we feel sadness come out of the blue for no apparent reason (hint: what are you eating as it’s seriously connected to how you are taking care of your body?), maybe our immune system even seems out of whack (again, are we leaving our self-care to the whim of “if I had time?” because that ship has long since sailed and you know you have time…we all have time for what we make time for).  I get it.  I do.  But if you are a reader of many years, read some of the past archives and see the similarities perhaps in my story and yours.  Maybe you already have.
  4. Connect with other like-minded people.  Here is the hard one.  Sometimes we feel as if there is no one we can connect with.  The stories we tell ourselves are so ingrained.  No one understand me.  I am alone.  I’m too old to change or to make new friends at this point.  These are just stories that your mind is trying on you to see if you will push through, past this uncomfortable feeling, and grow.  Growth is right there outside of the comfort zone and I am here to help you.  If any of this resonated with you, come find some like-minded people, who told themselves all of this and more at one time, and have found a place where they are not just merely surviving.  It is freeing being able to push on through.  You were meant to see this today.  I know you were.  >>> Head|Heart|Health Club <<< The club with soul.

Healing the Doormat Ways…3 Tips on Getting Up Again.

Healing the Doormat WaysWhat is a doormat personality?  It is someone who believes they are actually unworthy of boundaries.  The people pleasing behavior is there and it doesn’t ruffle feathers.  There is a desire to be accepted that is so strong that it seems to override the part of the brain that says “Hey, you are better than this.  Say something!”

Where does this come from?  It could come from a past history of feeling abandoned, ridiculed to the point of low self-esteem, or it could actually just be there with one particular person for reasons unknown to you, but you recognize it, and want things to change.

As we work towards healing the doormat ways, you have to understand that this is not an overnight process, but a work in progress, and that’s perfectly okay.  Once you have recognized the signs, know that there are things you can do to change yourself, but not the other person.  You can only ever work to change yourself and this is a key factor here.  The other person will not change, so repeat this to yourself.

It is important to recognize these 3 key thought patterns and work on yourself, not them.

3 Tips on Healing the Doormat Ways:

  1. Recognize when you are going into victim mentality.  It might be like this in your head “I am not at fault here.  I had nothing to do with that.”  Sometimes, the truth is hard.  It is harder still when you start to look at the facts of what is happening objectively and you actually see your involvement in a situation.  Maybe you haven’t been all that clear in your interactions with someone and you thought that things were implied. This leads to you not having to take a stand and then it loops back around to the victim thinking.  You never actually had to say out loud how you felt, but it was implied, therefore you didn’t actually have to involve yourself in life’s disappointments and feelings.  I know that sound complicated right now, but think about it.  Does everyone know where they stand with you when you feel disappointed?  Next time, use I feel statements.  I feel cornered when you don’t call ahead and just show up here asking me to babysit. It puts me in a difficult situation.  There.  It’s out.  Not implied.
  2. Set boundaries that you admire.  We are each responsible for our own boundaries, and sometimes we “wish” we could be like someone else.  So if you admire someone and how they handle situations, think about what it is that you actually admire.  Do you like the way they say no without apologizing?  Write that down on a list.  Do you like the way they tell their friends that their kids can’t ruin their couch by eating on it?  Write it down.  Maybe it’s how they handle relationships and boundaries.  Now apply these thoughts to your life.  No, we can’t change other people nor can we become other people, but we can take some cues from them and start to apply the good parts to our own lives.  In this situation remember this, the clearer you are on what you want to allow in your life and what you want to repel from your life, the clearer your energy is.  Your thoughts, actions and body language will start to reflect it.  You are working on you.  No one else is going to do this for you.  So use this list only to work on yourself, your actions, and your thoughts.
  3. Start learning how to detach from approval.  This one is going to take some time and will not happen overnight.  Grab your journal and write approval in the middle of the page.  What does it feel like to you?  Circle it and branch off with why you want it, how it feels, and what it does for you.  Okay, good.  Next, write dislike on a page.  How does that feel?  Branch off, and keep going.  What is the worst thing that can happen if you are disliked?  Did you write it down?  This part is going to be uncomfortable as growth often is.  Growth can be disguised as struggle and pain.  So for just a minute, think about how it is going to feel when you start to stand up for yourself.  And then you keep doing it over and over again.  Interestingly enough, the feelings of standing up for yourself will be similar to the ones under the approval cluster.  Only this time, you will have created those feelings for yourself.

As you begin to make this change to your inner self, your outer self will start to reflect it as well.  Note that people in your life, especially narcissistic ones, are not going to like this change and they might start to fall away…and that’s okay.  You are now learning how to meet your own needs and make boundaries that are appropriate for you, not them.  You might start to see less of them, and eventually not see them at all.  The people who are meant to be in your life will now have more of a clear space and that my friend, is where you will find peace and balance.  Looking for more tips on creating balance in your life and taking back your life?  Check out the >> Club with Soul. << where journal therapy, meditations, yoga poses for beginners (even if you have never tried it and don’t move much), and tutorials are available to you 24/7.

How to Practice the Lost Art of Being Present

The Lost Art of Being Present“Mom!!  Can so and so have a ride, and such and such.  And can I go over to this person’s house later?  But first I need some new cleats…okay?  Oh and 40 snacks.  Like right now to take into band.  And I forgot to tell you we have to have people over to finish tie-dying these shirts.  And then can you take Person X back home because they don’t have a ride?”

Ohmmmm.  That was just one of my teens on one particular day this week.  I know that it sounds a bit frantic, and it can be, but so can grocery store shopping if you let the overwhelm get to you.  >> Check out my latest video on staying balanced over here <<< 

So the days of doing nothing, not having a cell phone, not having to feel connected to a device are long gone (perhaps).  However, you can inject mindful moments into your day by practicing being present.

This might be a typical experience in your mind Present moment thought. Past. Past. Past. FUTURE! FUTURE! Present moment thought.  It’s kind of like scrolling through your feed, right?  Checking your social media, and then deciding what you want to click the like or love on.  I would like you to practice the lost art of being present consistently, for one week, before you scroll onto something else.

How?  Your mind screams.  Why should I?  Your mind also thinks.  This is the kind of stuff those “yoga” people do.  I just don’t know if I can do it.  Well, before I was one of those yoga people, I was trapped in so many patterns of over thinking that my thoughts were just like ping-pong balls.  I was exhausted from over thinking because I was time traveling everyday without the Tardis.  Seriously.  If you don’t believe me, try this.

There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.  Leo Tolstoy

How to Practice Being Present:

  1. Take out your tiny notebook and write P for past, N for now, and then F for future.  Using little tick marks, start tallying your thoughts.  Yes, it might be a lot of work to do in one day, but try it for one day.  Which column had the highest score?  You are going to be very surprised.  You spend more time in other moments even if you start thinking about paying a bill in the future, what are you going to cook for dinner, what do you need from the store, I can’t believe that guy just cut me off in traffic, my boss is a ___ for treating me ___ in the meeting, I have to get 40 snacks, and so on.
  2. Notice your activities.  This might surprise you, but you struggle because you also are judging yourself.  So don’t judge how you are being in your activities, just start to notice what you are doing.  As you garden, start to notice the dirt shifting around your hand or garden spade.  As you come into a new yoga class, don’t notice what anyone else is doing, just focus on the way your body feels on the mat.  As you are walking, start to notice the way your foot moves on the path, and how you are breathing.  Are you breathing shallowly because you are overthinking?  Notice, observe and shift back into the present moment.
  3. The present moment has arrived.  There is no guess work as to what is happening right now.  We already know it.  So practice during one of your normal routines like eating lunch.  Just notice the way you make your sandwich or even your kids sandwiches.  Put music on and listen as you work.  Be fully present so much so that other people’s energy does not throw you off.  That becomes the key which only you hold.  There is only room for your energy as you stay present.  What other people are doing with their frantic thoughts, which then spirals out, can’t really bother you if you are staying present.  You start to become an observer of what is happening. 
  4. Triggers will become apparent in this way.  As you notice your energy, you will start to observe which friend, colleague, child, neighbor, etc, are using old mechanisms to trigger you.  They have learned that behavior as well, particularly anyone who wants to ruffle your feathers.  I will use myself as an example.  I value honesty as one of the top qualities a person can have.  Dishonesty triggers a wave of energy that will result in anger if I don’t ride it out and then breathe deeply.  This includes using tactics of “omission” from my darling kids.  So I have discussed full examples of this so that “Hulk Mom” doesn’t come out.  Instead of worrying, I proactively explained what will happen.  This helps work around a possible trigger.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.  Buddha

If you are interested in learning more about staying present, learning how to focus on your own energy, and harness your inner power, I invite you to try my Club out for a month >>> The Club with Soul.  <<<

How to Practice the Lost Art of Being Present

 

 

Feeling Down? 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up

Feeling down? 7 ways to pick yourself back up.Feeling Down? 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up!

A Guest Post By Leo Babauta

From time to time, we all get a little down, maybe even a little depressed. Maybe we are feeling overwhelmed, or feel bad because we’re not doing well with our goals. There are many reasons for feeling down, and I’m not qualified to discuss all of them, their implications, or clinical treatment. What I can talk about are some things that have worked for me.

Feeling a little depressed can interfere with achieving our goals. We know we should be doing something, but we just don’t feel like doing anything. This can last for a long time if you don’t head it off as soon as possible and take action. Here are some of the things that work best for me:

  1. Make a list. Sometimes we are depressed simply because we are overwhelmed with all the things we have to do that we haven’t gotten around to doing. You might be into GTD, but sometimes every GTDer falls behind with his system, and sometimes you just don’t have the energy to do so. So all the “stuff” that’s in our head can overwhelm us. Start simply by picking up a piece of paper and a pen, and making a list of the most pressing things you have to do. Sometimes it’s work stuff, sometimes it’s stuff around the house that’s bothering us, sometimes it’s goal tasks, or a combination of these and more. Simply making a list can be a big relief — you’re getting things under control. You can see, right in front of you, what you need to do, and that alone can pick up your mood.
  2. Take action. You’ve made a list, and you still feel overwhelmed? Well, get started on the first thing you need to do. Is it a big task? Break it down and just do the smallest task, something just to get you started. Once you get started, once you get into action, you’ll feel better. Trust me. You might still feel overwhelmed, but at least you’re doing something. And once you start doing something, you’ve got momentum, and that feels much better than lying around feeling sorry for yourself.
  3. Exercise. I know, you might not be in the mood for exercise. But just do it! Taking a walk, going for a run, going to the gym, whatever it is you do for exercise — get out and do it now! You don’t need to do a real hard workout, but the simple act of exercise can lift your mood immediately. Just do it!
  4. Shower and groom yourself. Laying around in your underwear, smelling bad, is not going to do you any good. Simply showering, and feeling clean, can do wonders for your mood. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, shave, do whatever it is that you need to do to feel clean and good about yourself. Instant pick me up!
  5. Get out of the house and do something. Sometimes, if you stay home lying around, feeling depressed, just getting out (after showering and grooming) will change your mood. Staying home all the time can really get you down, and you may not realize this until you go out and do something. Preferably something on your list (see No. 1).
  6. Play some lively music. I like Brown Eyed Girl, the Kinks, the Ramones, or an upbeat Beatles tune, but you might have your own brand of feel-good music. Whatever it is, crank it up, and let yourself move to the beat. It may just be what the doctor ordered.
  7. Talk about it. Got a significant other, best friend, family member, co-worker you can talk to? Bend their ear. That’s what they’re their for. If you don’t, there are hotlines, or professionals, you can talk to. And then there’s always online groups. These are great places to find someone to talk to. Getting things off your chest makes a big difference, and can be a huge lift. It can also help you work out the reasons you’re feeling down.
  Not convinced yet?  Here are a few more articles to help you:
 What works for you?  Feel free to leave a comment below if you tried any of these tips.

Lies that keep you from moving forward.

Lies that keep you from moving forwardOccasionally, someone has to be the bad guy.  You know that one friend who really wants you to succeed so they tell you something you really don’t want to hear.  Well, that’s me today.

Life is going to be a million different things for you.  It’s going to be beautiful and brilliant one moment and the next is going to suck big time.  You’re going to be up one moment only to be smacked down again a minute later.  You’re going to be minding your own business going to your “routine” doctor’s appointment and then you get told that a few more tests are needed.  So you panic…and go from point A to Z in your head in a matter of minutes.  But the bottom line is, it’s your reaction that counts. It’s what you do in those terrible moments that define you.  

I remember getting the news that I had a few incurable diseases.  If not treated, they could have killed me, yes.  But I was 23 years old so you know, I probably had the same amount of time as others ahead of me.  That was before I was even married, before I even really thought about being a mom, before I said yes to my first real job and before I had ever even bought a house, experienced the joy of paying bills and taxes and whatever being an adult encompassed.

Some of you have heard this part before, but for those who want to learn more here are a few posts from the early days, and the rest of you can keep reading after this:

So, I do get it folks.  I do.  In full disclosure…I don’t mind pissing people off with the truth. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it’s liberating, sometimes it’s messy and ugly and then you wake up the next day and you feel amazing! Why? Because maybe you weren’t fully being honest with yourself about who you are and maybe you were hiding living in your truth. So that “courage” it took you to finally speak your truth feels better. Like you are finally living in your own skin. Well, it’s time for you to stop telling yourself these things.

Lies that keep you from moving forward:

  1. I will never _____.   The truth is, if you start something off with that, you won’t.  Period.  I will never find a person who loves me (says your mind, or your status).  I will never get that promotion.  Oh that can never be me.  It won’t.  Not with that attitude.  So what does one do with this?  You take baby steps with your mind.  Okay, right now the situation seems out of my control.  So what can I control?  My reaction.  My thoughts.  My ability to change me.  I will one day feel amazing again.  I just know it.  <<< So that was my head after 5 years of pain.  Straight and constant pain daily had almost gotten me to I will never…and I realized that I had to do something drastic.  I had to start saying “One day I will….” and I got there.
  2. They are just lucky.  You have convinced yourself that someone else is more entitled to a share of luck than you are.  You are therefore not as lucky and will never have whatever it is.  What you don’t know is that “they” have worked their ass off for whatever it is.  They have felt defeat so many times it wasn’t funny.  They were trying their best one day and were on the 50th time of trying to get ahead when it finally happened for them.  So what can you do?  Start small again.  This is exactly what I teach my Club.  Look, I never knew the word “manifestation”.  I didn’t watch the “Secret” and I don’t care what that secret was because I know I have it figured out.  I believed that “it” whatever it was, was going to happen for me.  So in the beginning, it was just to live without pain.  That was enough for me because it would mean I had my life back again.  I was going to create my own luck and that is exactly what I teach.
  3. The past or future is better than right now.  Achoo bullshit.  Sorry.  I call it like I see it.  I miss the past too sometimes.  And yes, there’s grief for people I lost, but I know for a fact they wouldn’t want me to live that way.  I did take an entire year to grieve once and I don’t regret it.  But then it was time to pick myself up and keep moving forward.  Of course, shortly after that I was diagnosed with my first disease, but I did keep moving forward.  So what can you do?  Create Mindful Moments.  If it is very hard to live in this moment right now, try to notice when and where your thoughts wander.  Gently pull them back to the present moment.  I am not saying yoga cures everything, but it does actually change you.  I brought myself to my mat and practiced what I needed to do.  Time and time again until it became less practice and more second nature.  If my mind strayed to the pain, I would then focus on the way my hand was pressing into the mat.  The way the next day, it was easier to hold a position for a few seconds longer than the day before.  Until one day, I did something I worked on for an entire year and I will never forget the way my buddy smiled at me as I said hey, look at me!!  I did it.  There was this internal glow that I created all for myself and I had that power within me…so do you my friend.

I’m not saying that I have all the answers because I don’t.  I just know that you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.  Over the course of my 200 hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training, I doubted myself more times than I can count.  I would come home and soak in the tub and be in immense pain.  I would look up at the heavens and ask why me.  But the answer was always the same “why not me?” and so I learned to stop telling myself lies.  I really could do this.

If you’d like more information on my journal therapy/yoga mindset/learning to live your truth Club, here it is >>> Head|Heart|Health Club <<< Click there.

Overthinking 101: Learning How to Postpone “Worry”

Look, I get it.  I worry with the best of them.  In fact, I come from a long line of “worriers”.  Things like Don’t push the trash down with your hand or you will get cut. Or If you go snow skiing, you will probably fly off the mountain.  Recently it was A shark might eat you if you swim in the ocean and if that doesn’t happen a rip tide will get you. 

I actually love swimming in the ocean and taught my daughters to jump waves as well as my niece with my brother…while the worrier was watching.  We all came back in one piece.  So what does this type of habitual practice do to your brain?  Well, I probably should have been in therapy, in fact I tried it once, but she just there listening to me saying “umm hmm” so that made me wonder what was going on in her head and that was worse to be honest.

Anyway, I discovered yoga years ago, but I didn’t actually “get it” at first.  I love this article on it because it was like this.  I started to think if a freaking neuroscientist thought just like me at first, then perhaps I am not the only one noticing that some people do go to “yoga” and in fact are not doing yoga at all.

So what did I start teaching that was different in my own yoga classes (and in real life, including my HHH Club)?  I started teaching yoga-like thoughts and being aware of the absence of thought, even if it’s just a minute.  Now, what if you worry about all of the above mentioned things, plus many others that never ever come to pass?  Here are a few tips for you.

Overthinking 101 notes:

  1. Postpone worry.  On your calendar, write out a time that you worry.  I know, it’s crazy.  But seriously.  As you are working, if worry starts to come into your head while you are busy doing something else, just stop, write worry at 5p.m. today, and keep going.  If it gets really bad, set a timer as well so you can worry about the sky falling for exactly 15 minutes and if you start to think about it longer, you are reminded you devoted enough time to that thought, now it’s up.  Like an appointment.  Meet back there in your head tomorrow at a different time if it still lingers, but don’t think about it anymore.  This actually allows you that slight bit of control that we need.
  2. Obsessive thoughts can be faced.  So imagine for a minute you are Sheldon Cooper.  What happens if he doesn’t knock the third time?  Can he go a whole day without that?  So if you don’t get this, Sheldon is a character I love on a T.V. show.  He has to knock three times and say his neighbor’s name.  But let’s put this in perspective again.  My dad uses antibacterial squirty stuff like it’s going out of style.  What if a germ actually gets on him?  To test this theory and face not using the anti-bac, he would have to touch something and then not use it.  See if he can last after being in public. Each time maybe go a bit longer.  Again, you get the drift here.  Each time try to go a little bit longer without feeling like you have to do the obsessive behavior and see what happens.  Are you okay?  Can you make it from one task to another without reaching for the anti-bac or knocking on the door a third time?
  3. Use a mantra to relax.  As you begin to feel stressed, say “I am in control of my thoughts.”  Then breathe in and hold at the top of a breath just a sec and focus on that feeling, then release and breathe out.  Keep breathing in and out for a full round of three.  Start to notice the tension in your body releasing.  Notice the set of your jaw, and unclench the teeth.  Let the shoulders relax, and just be aware of being in your body.  Notice how you control the rise and fall of your chest by breathing deeper, not shallow, short breaths, but deep, controlled breaths.  You are in control.  You are able to breathe deeply and focus on the now.

As I have been working on my practice of teaching others how to control their thoughts, I am reminded again and again that just like anything we do, the power of now must be practiced.  We mindlessly go through our days sometimes and that is really not healthy.  Flex that muscle and learn to practice the power of now through tiny activities like washing the dishes, going on a walk, gardening, yoga and meditation.  Each of your tasks can be a mini-meditation in itself.  Like riding a bike, but just practice staying present.

Want to learn more?  >>> Head|Heart|Health Club <<<

 

Save