Spiritual Dark Side…3 Signs You Might Notice.

I will never forget the first time I told someone that I felt more spiritual than religious.  They looked at me like I had just taken the path straight to hell.  In fact, I think that was a time in my life that became a true test to what I believed.

Let me break this down though.  I didn’t wake up thinking I was better than anyone else in this world, no.  I actually felt more connected to others.  I mean spirit is your essence, right?  I felt connected to the true self of others and just realized that I didn’t have to react to everything that was being said around me.  I could take a pause and look to the inside of a person and realize that what they pointed out in others was often what they were afraid of in themselves.  Aha.  I was waking up.

As I started “waking up” I noticed that others were, to use a Star Wars reference (which technically was also Jungian), going to the dark side after proclaiming being “spiritual”.  So what did that mean exactly?

I started noticing yoga teachers who were stuck in ego, people who claimed to be “heart centered” proclaiming how bad others in their field were and to come to them, as well as many other noticeable signs that these people were in fact full of crap.  Like counting followers.  Here are a few ways to notice on your own.

Spiritual Dark Side Flags:

  1. Acting superior to other people…as if it is their job.  Let me break this down for you.  No one, and I do mean no one on this earth, has the job title “supreme spiritual guru”.  Why would someone else pick on you or call you out to others if their job is to be a guide here for growth?  I can think of only one reason and that’s to make themselves feel better.  This type of thinking is from the ego kids (exaggerated sense of self-importance).  A true guide speaks from the heart and does it in a way that is a win-win for all, not a win-humiliate.  What is the point of that?  Truly.  Speaking from ego doesn’t result in growth.  Period.  If you feel this way, try to enforce your boundaries.
  2. They are working through their own stuff, but instead, prefer to constantly help others instead of doing their own work.  This one screams help to me.  They are always giving advice on every feed, platform, and portal around.  It screams “see me”.  Look at me.  I have my shit together, and I can advise you.  They seem to be looking for a crowd to advise because they just “know” how it is, but they are starting “new” spiritual practices all the time and jumping from thing to thing.  When do they have time to do the “work”?  Like really?  I prefer the teacher, guide, mentor or what have you who says they need some time off.  It’s very important to notice those people.  They are putting in the time to do the work.
  3. They have graduated from doing the spiritual work.  This one also screams no.  If someone tells you that they have reached the final enlightenment stage, run (because they must be a ghost).  You don’t stop learning and growing until you die.  I really believe that.  This is a great adventure.  “You can only come to the morning through the shadows.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien  The shadow parts teach us how to walk in the light, and yes, they will be there until the end.  It is part of life and we must embrace all that life teaches us.  Some days are going to be hard and we’re not going to feel like doing the work, and you know what, it’s okay.  There are good days and bad days and we all have them my friends.

I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay, small acts of kindness and love. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

To live is the greatest adventure of all, and to live wholeheartedly takes courage.  Admitting that you make mistakes is okay.  Being a leader who makes mistakes is human.  Don’t forget to find those people.  Those are your kind of people.

Want help in an authentic way?  Feel free to find people just like you here.  Head|Heart|Health Club

How to Handle the “Knowing” When Your Intuition is High.

Intuition

It happened again.  Someone just lied straight to your face.  And you had a split second to decide what to do.  So you just numbly nod your head and move on.  The other choice is confrontation and how can you prove you know they lied You can’t just say “well I felt it…” or can you?  What if they think you are crazy?  How do you handle this?  Help!

Well, the interesting thing is this, the more tuned in you are with this person, the stronger the “knowing” is.  Sometimes, you want to dismiss it because it would make your life easier.  But I think it is being developed in our conscious mind for a reason.  So how do we move on from here?

How to handle the “Knowing”:

  1. Trust your intuition.   If you know in your gut you are right, you are probably on the right thought.  The thought comes without reaching for it.  Much like our reaction when we pull our hand away from a hot surface, shiver when we are cold, or our bellies growl when we are hungry.  It is simply just there and many people don’t understand this.
  2. Breathe deeply.  What was the first thing you thought?  The first impression is often the most accurate.  We then start to second guess ourselves about the thought.  Breathe deeply again.  Trust your gut reaction.
  3.  Think about how you feel when you ignore it.  So you know it’s there and it’s going to wake you up in the middle of the night.  Can you stop your friend/co-worker from lying from you?  No.  You can’t do that.  But what is your intention going to be if you do, in fact, tip them off you know something fishy is going on?  Don’t point the finger, but instead see if there is a way for you to later re-visit this with your intention clear.
  4. Weight the consequences and energy output.  Supposedly people are more likely to lie when they are stressed or put on the spot.  So consider asking important things when someone has had time to relax or maybe isn’t in a room full of people if it’s at work.  I know, to some of us who just want the truth, this seems like lots of effort, but the energy spent trying to catch the person in the lie isn’t worth it either.
  5. Have the conversation about what your moral code is and what you do and do not expect from a friend, co-worker, or even your boss.  Of course this takes courage, but maybe they will think twice about who you really are in a world full of people wearing masks.  Saying you don’t have time for that kind of life and you don’t tolerate it in your relationships can attract just the right people to your circle.  Obviously, I would be careful if it’s your boss, but seriously, if a leadership figure is lying to you all the time, why work for him or her?  I mean, you know, once you have your next job lined up.  I am being realistic and know that honesty doesn’t pay the bills.

How can you handle liars?

What are we working on in the Head|Heart|Health Club this month that helps highly sensitive people?  Come on over and find out.  <<< Don’t forget to read my new about section.  Feel free to follow this blog using the e-mail sign-up too!

What happens when you embrace your darkness?

According to Carl Jung, the “persona” defines what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world.  Interestingly enough, the word persona is derived from Latin as “mask”.  So he describes the “shadow self” as the unconscious mind which holds those fears, weaknesses, and perhaps even the stray evil thought.

Sometimes we feel that in the darkness there is comfort.  We can stay there and hang out for a while and no one can see what we are thinking about or what’s really going on.  So let’s think about this for a moment.

Each and every one of us, has darkness.  It’s just part of life.  Part of our soul that has been changed by experiences…but we are ourselves because of it.  It is neither good nor bad until we act on it.  It’s just there; however, if you are fighting depression, it seems to stay more present in your mind.

So what are some ways we can deal with our darkness once we are ready to move forward into the light?

  1. Record your joys and your gratitude for the good things you have going on in your life in a journal.  <<< just like the one I use:)
  2. List what good you have recently…like swept a neighbor’s porch off, or given clothes away to someone who needs them.  Paid it forward in the coffee drive through.  If you are having problems listing things, go out and do something!
  3. Find a way to laugh and incorporate funny videos into that if it helps you smile.
  4. Do some exercise, walk, or get yourself to yoga!
  5. Get your vitamin D as it helps beat depression back with a mental boost.
  6. Shift into the light…literally.  My friend suggested this light to me called a Ion Therapy Lamp.
  7. Help lift someone else up by paying them a compliment when they least expected it.  Maybe even something you admire about them that you have never told them!
  8. Pray, meditate, or shift your thoughts to something else.  You can use a mantra, or even affirmations.

The bottom line is this…it’s okay to NOT be okay every once in a while.  As I said today on my fan page, a shadow is cast by a light.  If you are noticing a shadow, you are also casting a light.

Whether you are trying to wear too many masks, such as the one you wear at work, or the one you wear at your child’s school function, and your true self is just tired of the whole game…so the darker thoughts start to creep up.  That is definitely a sign that a break is needed.

Once we begin to see that the darker parts of us are really there as a guide, we begin to see what parts we want to bring more light to.  We can peacefully co-exist with both sides, and we can also learn to understand what it means.  There are times we need to take a break, step back from the world and re-charge.  The darkness likes to point out when we are stretched too thin, so just take note and remember to breathe.

Light

How to Find Your Groove Again…and Release Funk!

I can’t help but think of George Clinton and “We’ve Got the Funk” when I started thinking about my title for this post.  After I listened to that song, it was hard to concentrate as I like music and I started to wiggle…but that made it even better.

So back to the word “funk” and what that means to me.  I know that I have many things to be happy about, but occasionally, it takes just one little thing to bring my mood down.  I know that I do not want to function at such a low vibrational frequency, but at times, I just have to go with it.  If it appears I need to bring myself out of it, because it has lasted longer than necessary, I will work to snap myself out of it.

Why don’t you want to stay in a “funk” or a low-frequency?

I know that many people worry about money, so I am going to start there.  When you worry about money, bills, and feel like you have scarcity in your life, you actually start attracting more of it.  I know some people think this sounds crazy, but it’s true.  On the other hand, when you start acting as if your needs will be met, through prayer, meditation, or journaling, and release it after the prayer, things start to shift.  I have seen this happen in my life and I firmly believe it to be true.

I would like you to apply the “acting as if” rule to your thoughts anytime you start to feel like things are slipping out of control.  One of the hardest times to do this for me personally was when I was very ill.  When you are ill, you are not at your best.  It lowers you so much that it seems you can’t get out of the hole.  Start visualizing yourself well.  Again, write on it, pray over it, meditate on a healthy vision of you.  Embrace it.  When people ask you how you are doing, say “I am healing.”  Do not, in any way shape or form, list what is wrong with you.  Don’t air it out on Facebook, don’t talk about it with a friend, don’t put it in writing anywhere.

The exception to this thought process is if you put it out there in a positive way.  I know that sounds crazy, but a friend of mine does this to let her friends know how her journey is going and it is never written in a low way.  It is always written in a way that says how blessed she is, and I believe it helps her healing process.  She has continued to beat enormous odds!

How can we find our groove again?

  1. Do a body scan like I say at the beginning and end of my yoga classes.  Breathe deeply, start your thoughts at your head and release tension you might be holding in your jaw, and face.  Work your way down and feel the tension slipping from your shoulders.  If you notice any tight spots, send healing thoughts there to open the muscles up like a flower budding, releasing the tension held therein.  Continue working your way down and take inventory of your stomach.  This part is a little bit different.  Think about what you are eating.  Are you feeding yourself good foods?  Does your stomach not seem to digest foods?  Are you processing foods normally?  <<< Yes, I know people think this is TMI, but it helps.  Lastly, scan all the way through your body and notice where you are holding tension.  Release the tension by tensing the muscle and releasing it.
  2. From your body scan or inventory above, think to yourself what needs to improve.  Are your self-care routines in place?  Are you taking care to keep moving and exercise?  Have you given up doing something you love and thus feel tight and tense all the time?  What really needs to change?  Embrace the truth with yourself.  Don’t cover it up.  Write about what things you know need to be different in order for you to “release the funk.”
  3. Are you sleeping?  Full disclosure on this one.  Several years ago I started doing research, more research, into all-natural supplements because I was diagnosed with so many things.  I read that people with fibromyalgia don’t sleep, and I put myself on this supplement and never looked back.  Except when I run out of it and can’t sleep again for 2 days until the order comes in.  So I became a customer first as I got a discount from ordering something that honestly, helped me find sleep at last.  You are more than welcome to do your own research, but for me, the change was drastic.  I needed sleep to function.
  4. The stomach was the root of several of my moodiness issues.  If you read my post I linked up there to the word stomach…it really changed my life when I realized that caused me so many hours of “funk” when it was not in balance.  I did put myself on my own probiotics after hours of research into the different types.  Why?  My gut was causing me so much pain and dysfunction that I couldn’t have a normal life.  Period.  <<< that link above is my really super amazing research I wrote for a magazine:)  Yes I am proud of it because I didn’t give up on my quest to find my groove again.
  5. Treat yourself and others with kindness.  Have faith that this will pass.  Be gentle to yourself, but firm that you can’t stay in this place forever. I know you can move forward and find that inner fire again!

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Stop Approval Seeking Behavior With These 5 Steps

Take 3 deep breaths.  Think back on your childhood and things you did to get attention.  Were they good behaviors to be seen as the good child or were they naughty actions to be seen as someone who needed to be scolded and constantly reminded to try better?  No matter which route you took, or even a combination, you were probably trying to win approval from the adults around you.  Depending on the reactions you got, it further reinforced this behavior.

I am going to be honest, as a child, I don’t know if I just liked the bad route or if I got used to being told “Stop that Aimee.  Go to your room.”  But I probably thought that was my name for a while.  Gotoyourroom.  <<< my name.  So I got used to lots of alone time and introspection.  Not a bad thing, really, but I did want to fit in as I got older.

Apparently, we have been wired since before time, seriously, to be a “pack” or a group.  It used to be linked to survival just like in animals, but times have changed.  We aren’t trying to forage in the cold wilderness and seek shelter.  We have evolved; however, someone forgot to tell us that.  We are still seeking that pack acceptance…the need to fit in.

At home we want our parents, siblings, and relatives to like us.  We genuinely want to have love and with love, we feel like we have to have that approval.  That doting grandma beaming at our accomplishments creating the shrine to how great we are.  Saving that last bite of special cake for us.  This does not always happen.  Ha.  Sometimes, we are the black sheep.  Baaaa.

At work we want our co-workers to give us high-fives in the hallway.  Our boss to nod at us in respect and say things like “You saved the x account today.  Single handed.  It was all you.”  You want that Elle Woods moment in the court room where everyone thought you weren’t paying attention, but you were smarter than you looked.  But the truth is, sometimes your life is more like Friends where Chandler has worked at his office for years and not a soul knows what he does.

You ask yourself questions each and every night like:

  • Will I still be liked if I am 15 pounds heavier?
  • What if I don’t wear the exact right outfit to work tomorrow?  Will they laugh at me?
  • What if I stand up and say no to something that is wrong with this policy at work?  Will I get fired?
  • What if I answer truthfully because I am really tired of how I have been treated…will I still have love/respect/a place in this world?
  • What if I was honest?

You, my friend, are creating the pressure for yourself.

5 Steps to Stop Seeking the Approval of Others:

  1. Firstly, what is it you actually want out of the relationship?  Ask yourself what the end goal is and if you seeking approval is going to produce that or help you in any way.  The answer might even surprise you.  Journal it right now.  You can do this in a variety of ways.  Put the desired result in the middle of a bubble and your actions all around it that will produce the result, or just write about it.
  2. Identify what emotion or result you were seeking from the above exercise.  If the answer is acceptance, ask yourself if you fully accept yourself right now as you are.  Faults and all.  If the answer is love, take a good hard look in the mirror.  Are you worthy of love?  Of course you are.  No past mistakes are bad enough that you are not worthy of loving yourself.  Your subconscious is likely remembering language from your childhood.  “Why are you always bad?”  “You aren’t good enough…”  “Why can’t you be more like so and so.”  <<< So and so is now in jail.  Or has had a rough life because everyone thought they were so great.  It’s time we move our inner child past these experiences with some loving kindness to ourselves.  You can heal these wounds by noticing every time you think these thoughts and allowing yourself to replace them with the mantra “I am worthy of love.  I am enough.”  Write this in your journal.
  3. Take baby steps.  In any good program they say things like “Well, it took you 9 months to gain that weight…” or whatever, but we forget the months and expect immediate results.  When I deal with clients who are in a rush, I watch their language.  What they are willing to change and work on right now without expecting to change over night always tells me more about themselves than they realize.  Are they being honest with themselves?  Are they willing to do the work?  <<< 2 great questions to ask yourself.  Don’t attach yourself to a certain place, friend, job, promotion etc. without seeing all the steps it takes to make it work.  Your self-worth is also not tied up in the fact that sometimes things simply don’t work out.  Not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but take teacher of the year.  It was not ever based on merit in my school district.  One lady won because she was not actually at work all year.  True story.  She was ill, and people were glad she was better.  While I get this, truly I do, other people were so wrapped up in winning that they talked about this for months.  It was never in your control.  Period.  Let. It. Go. Be like Elsa.
  4. On that note, learn to take rejection.  Things happen.  Let’s think back to the first time you faced rejection.  Hmmm.  I got it.  My school team (back then it was called Olympics of the Mind), came really close to winning the top prize and going to state, which was a big deal to my 5th grade self.  Sadly, we lost.  But we all had a great deal of fun and our performance was very unique.  We got to work together on the props and I made new friends.  I still talk to those people today…some x number of years I won’t name later.  Fast forward to being observed as a teacher.  UGH.  I could not stand it because there were so many factors out of my control.  Would x kid act like his lost his mind today?  Definitely.  Would such and such say something embarrassing?  Yes.  Always.  But what could I control?  Me.  Myself.  And I.  I would visualize the lesson going perfectly, having the correct responses, and being prepared.  Sometimes it worked…sometimes I had to say you know what?  I will try again tomorrow.  <<< always remember you can try again.  Something better might be coming from that rejection and you never even saw it coming.
  5. Lastly, remember you are always learning.  Focus on you and only you.  Learn to be like the cool new Michael Phelps meme out there.  It looks like this:Micheal_phelpsBut it says winners focus on winning.  Losers focus on winners.  Or something like that:)  I know many, many people who are constantly checking on what others are doing.  Do you think the people out there doing things are thinking about them?  Nope.  Have a “growth mindset” where you know you have some things to learn, but looking at other people and where they are is not going to help you.  Only focus on you and your path.

powerWant to work with me on changing yourself in a self-guided course?  More on that here.  Also see Head|Heart|Health for more.

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5 Great Foods to Boost Your Mood

For those of you who have read my about me page, you know that I have been researching and improving my health for over 18 years.  Last year I completed a sports nutrition certification and realized, yet again, how many of the health issues we face today can be altered and slowly improved with just the right tweak in our diets.  I believed so much in it, that in just 1 year, I had completely turned my life around from removing the foods that were causing me pain and “flare-ups” of my diseases.  Depression was not going to get me once I identified what foods made me worse.

So today, I was minding my own business gathering ingredients for a nice big salad, when a processed food display jumped right up and tried to grab me.  <<< not really, but it almost did.  Chocolate is my weakness.  But this chocolate was on something that is a known flare for me and causes me to crash so much right after eating it I feel like I can’t move.  I become that tired.  So I knew what I had to do and I want to help you do the same.  Let’s grab some of these great foods instead!

5 Great Foods to Boost Your Mood:

  1. Go bananas <<< technically I linked to my favorite dry snack, but I love this version of dried bananas.  So what do these yellow fruits help us with?  Bananas employ mood-lifting power, with their combination of vitamins B6, A, and C; fiber; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein; and healthy carbohydrates.  What happens in the body?  You get a quick boost from the fructose as well as sustaining energy from the fiber, which helps prevent a blood sugar spike and ensuing drop in energy as well as mood.  Mind you, this is natural and not some made up thing like “high fructose corn syrup”.  <<< icky for autoimmune responses…well just plain bad honestly. So I always stay away from that.  At our house, we tend to use bananas in smoothies, but if they have been there and are ripe, I will actually cut them up and put them in the freezer for later use as “banana cubes” in my blender.
  2. Sunflower seeds (or butter) <<< I love this stuff times 10.  I was doing research a few years ago on a theory I had that my prior acid-blocking supplements (completely weaned myself off them using natural remedy) were causing an issue with my magnesium levels.  Why is this important?  Magnesium, in addition to regulating mood, is vital for many body functions to operate normally. Magnesium deficiency can be responsible for feelings of fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety (triggers increase in adrenaline), and it’s been linked to various mood disorders. However, stable magnesium levels can help the body and mind achieve a calm and relaxed state.  Some scientific studies have shown magnesium supplementation to be beneficial in treating major depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.  Boom!  There it was yet again.  That feeling to go down the right path and unravel the mess my doctors, no offense to anyone, had caused in my gut.
  3. Dark chocolate is the bomb dot come in my world.  <<< the one linked I often see in my grocery store as a savior if I am desperate to have something chocolate.  I have to read all ingredients, but this one is safe for me.  The organic cacao powder is my go-to for smoothies, baking and drinks of the hot kind.  Yummy.  How does this help me?  Sorry men, but PMS time, seriously, come in the house with this in the shopping bag.  Here is why: Among its many nutrients, cacao beans contain a slightly stimulatory, mood-boosting caffeine derivative called theobromine. Theobromine, a molecule with a structure similar to caffeine, has been shown to support mood and increase focus:)  I am big into plant-based or phyto healing, so as this chocolate melts on your tongue, a number of reactions occur, including the release of serotonin in the brain and mood-elevating endorphins in the body.  Yummy.
  4. Pass me my green tea y’all.  <<< I linked my all-time favorite recent discovery of this muscle recovery tea I drink after a hard day of yoga.  So why is tea, especially green tea helpful?   Tea, the green variety more so, provides catechin antioxidants that have been shown to support brain function and promote proper balance of the stress hormone cortisol.  Further, a toasty mug of tea can supply you with L-theanine, an amino acid that might promote you being alert a bit more.  Also a report published in Public Health Nutrition showed that study participants who sipped four or more cups of green tea daily reported having a more positive mood.  I recently started making my green tea 30 minutes ahead of time in the fridge using cold water and mint leaves.  I then drink it cold and I know that provides a metabolism boost as well.
  5. Walnuts were also on my list of foods to eat.  <<< again, I have to be careful.  No glaze, no almonds (I personally found out they cause me stomach pain…who knew? Autoimmune is a tricky navigation.), no additives.  JUST walnuts!  Why are they helpful?  Walnuts contain a handful of components that contribute to the elusive good mood, including omega-3s, vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein, and folate.  Higher blood levels of omega-3s have been linked with better mood and lower rates of depression, while lower blood levels of omega-3s have been associated with higher rates of depression and negative feelings.  Boom!  Grab you some walnuts friends.  Or nutty friends…either way. Normal suggested dosage of omega-3 oils is one gram (1,000 mg) per day. You’ll get about the same amount, as well as a healthy dose of fiber and protein, in just half an ounce of walnuts.  I put them on my yogurt, but yogurt is a whole different story, so read the ingredients!  I personally have been enjoying some Brown Cow yogurt…but prior to that is was the Stonyfield Farms kind.  Again, navigate so that you can actually read all the ingredients as I discuss in my 4 Weeks to Wellness course.  You don’t want things you can’t read going into your body.  It really does flare all kinds of things that are just bringing you down.

Thank you guys for reading this and go out and clean your pantry today!  Stock up for better health!

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5 Signs You Are Over Thinking (And what to do about it)!

You have a choice to make.  A decision.  You listen to the chatter in your head for hours, days maybe and still can’t decide what to do.  Your heart knows the right answer.  But you keep listening to the chatter.  Did you know 73% of 25-35 year-olds identified as over thinkers?  More women (57%) find themselves over thinking than men (43%).

If you find yourself obsessing, over thinking, and not being able to stop, you need to change the thoughts immediately!!   

5 Signs You Are Over Thinking:

  1. You change clothes quite a few times before finally deciding on what to wear.  Solution:  Pick out your clothes the night before.  Everything, down to the accessories, and try it all on.  No matter what, stick with it.
  2. You are so busy running in a negative state of mind, that you can’t see past the situation.  The here and now.  Solution:  Get outside.  Change what you are doing right now.  Drop that thought and everything that comes with it.  Go on a bike ride, a walk, take a yoga class.  Move forward into the present.
  3. You don’t take time for yourself because you are too busy thinking about things that could go wrong.  You say no to new opportunities, new friends, and possibly new yoga classes because you might do something wrong.  Solution: Say yes.  Really, as soon as someone asks you to something that your body immediately thinks YES to, just say it without over thinking what could go wrong.  Your gut instinct and your heart are telling you to listen.  It’s your brain that is over thinking.  You have to change the pattern of the old ways by listening to your heart and gut feelings.  Here is what I like to do to get away:  Get outside and preserve my spirit. 
  4. You stay up all night thinking about the thing that happened.  The worst case scenario of that thing.  Maybe that pain was cancer?  You go from fine to spontaneously combusting in your head.  Solution:  Journaling all your thoughts out before you go to bed.  All the negatives in your head.  Then you write everything as you wish it will happen like in my manifesting journal article.  You write how it will go in the positive and believe it.
  5. The cycle of over thinking creates anger, jealousy, fear, betrayal, doubt, indecision and more in your real life.  Solution:  You have to take a step back and look at the process of letting go.  Get out of your head and let it all go.  Let go of the feeling that distract you from your higher purpose.  You can’t live your life in your head.  Start to come back to the body, the breath and this moment.  Slow down.  Be present and be real.  This is the only way to stop this process.  For me, it’s getting into my flow.  As you know that’s writing, yoga and reading a good book.  Gardening, hiking and more also fall on this list.  Time stops.  The world comes to a halt when I am in my flow.  Find that activity that makes your heart sing and stop the chatter.

Negative people

Body Image and Yoga…3 Reasons to Ignore the Mirror!

Happy International Day of Yoga my friends.  After one full year of teaching yoga, wow, I can honestly say that my body image has changed, but I still work on it daily!  In 2010, you are welcome to use the side search on the blog and read all about that year, but that was the year that everything started to attack me.  Autoimmune changed my life…and I don’t know if I will ever really accept it, but I have learned how to control it and that was a huge relief.

That being said, several changes happened to my body during the last 5 years that were not there before.  I found out I had fibrocystic breasts, and while it’s never a fun topic, I am linking it to my blog post on what happened that year and how I found out.  So I am going to be honest, my body image was not good around the time I came back to yoga due to pain, years of invisible diseases playing a game with me, plus more.  In some of my previous posts, I honestly thought I was writing in a positive way as I always laughed at myself; however, going back and reading now, I see that I was not fooling anyone.

I was in severe pain for so long that it was a deep path I had carved into my brain.  It was well-worn, so naturally I didn’t notice when my self-esteem went down the same path.  Why is it that your friends don’t say the things you need to hear?  Don’t be that friend who just lets your friend continue down this path.  Set the path on fire so they have to find a new way.

My new path was yoga.  Yoga became my saving grace.  When my anxiety from the countless doctor’s appointments was high as I waited on new tests, I would go to yoga.  At first, I cared what people thought of me in my yoga clothes.  I was not able to do all the things other people could…but I went to restorative yoga anyway.

What did I learn from this class?  I will tell you lessons that I learned which can’t be taught from a mirror.

3 Reasons to Ignore the Mirror:

  1. The mirror doesn’t tell you how beautiful you are to other people.  This is serious.  It reflects back your insecurities.  When you look in the mirror, you might see tired eyes, lines, and saggy skin.  When your friend sees you do a pose in yoga class for the first time that you have working on for a few months, they see your natural inner beauty.  I am telling you I know this to be true.  I have witnessed it in my friends who were afraid to come to yoga.  You might not even see how you glow, but I do.  As your teacher, I send you so much love and light during class.  Never once thinking of what you can’t do at all.  I have been there my friend.
  2. The mirror is actually supposed to be a tool.  Yup.  Just a thing to use for alignment in postures.  It is not there to judge us as that’s our job.  Do you ever stop in mid-thought and think to yourself “What if my daughter, sister, friend does this to herself?”  Would you allow others to speak so badly about themselves as you do in your head?  No matter the woman, no matter how you talk to yourself in your head, the answer is always I would never want anyone else to talk to themselves like this.  Seriously.  Ask a friend.  My group of sisters, not related, but from all cultures, meet regularly and we have said this many times.
  3. The mirror reflects the light around us, but not inside us.  Remember that the next time you are not going to yoga class because of how you “look” in the mirror or in yoga clothes or in blah, blah or until you lose x number of pounds.  Seriously remember this.  Because through yoga, I have learned to steady my mind, open my heart and come back to the breath.  If I miss yoga for too long, or don’t go for myself as I am the teacher, ha, if I don’t have that time to do the inner reflection, yes, hell yes, the outer reflection can look ugly to me.  I absorb others energy at times and if I don’t get it out through the experience of yoking myself back to the present moment, this breath, this body as Rolf Gates would say, “The real payoff of a yoga practice, I came to see, is not a perfect handstand or a deeper forward bend—it is the newly born self that each day steps off the yoga mat and back into life.”   

Each time I leave practice I am whole again my friends.  I have then collected all the pieces of my soul that seemed scattered and I feel new again.  Come to yoga my friends.  The mirror can’t possibly tell you how it feels.

Rolf GatesWant to learn new yoga poses in 3 different ways?  A break-down of poses for your body?  Check out the Head|Heart|Health Club

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5 Simple Ways to Ground Yourself

Sometimes, we can live in such a state of overwhelm that we no longer can find our center.  It is times like these, when we have lost our way, that we need to remember how to find balance in our lives.  If you happen to have the traits of an empath, you might walk into a situation and not be aware that you are in fact picking up energy like a lint roller to your soul.

When we ground ourselves, we become fully present as well as calm which usually helps us step back from the feelings and become aware of what is ours and what we have inadvertently attracted to us.  Grounding can help a highly sensitive person separate and discern instead of feeling and reacting.

5 Simple Ways to Ground Yourself:

  1. Use aromatherapy such as frankincense oil.  Frankincense is said to be very balancing and it’s believed that the oil transmits messages to the limbic system of the brain, which is known to influence the nervous system.  As long as it’s 100% naturally derived, any oil or incense can provide grounding.
  2. Listen to this water sound as you work.  Water can really help you focus and stay grounded in your work flow.

3.  Use this stone to “rub the worry” away and feel connected.  Hematite is the ultimate grounding gemstone for the body. It holds a very powerful grounding energy that literally feels like you are being sucked down into the Earth.

4.  Meditate and reflect with my favorite thing…journaling.  This journal is pretty amazing and looks like it has survived the test of time.

After you sit quietly for a space of time and talk to God, the universe, or just repeat a mantra on finding balance, think about what you are trying to get clear on.  Let’s say the feeling is anger.  Think of the last 3 people who you were around and see if any of their anger could have come through.  Which feelings are yours and which do you think did not come from you at all?  Is it possible to let go of the feelings and release the ones that you know were not yours?  Write about what it feels like to release those feelings and move forward.

5.  Get outside.  Take your shoes off if possible.  And walk literally on the ground.  Spread your toes and feel the earth.  The texture.  The grass.  Lie down and deeply.  Close your eyes and focus on the point between your eyebrows.  If you need a focus thought, I actually have this tiny book called Everyday Positive Thinking, and sometimes I will close my eyes, take a deep breath, and randomly open to a page.  Reflect on that thought and get clear on what it is you want to feel like for the day.

I hope these 5 tips helped you today and be sure to look at the top posts on the side of the blog! 

grounded

3 Tips on Learning to Release What Weighs You Down

let_goYesterday my friend from Inner Sanctuary: BE Inspired and I led the most amazing workshop called New Year|New Moon Let Go and Look Forward.  I planned the yoga session on releasing and unwinding while Lindsey planned the most amazing meditation and journaling session.  With just a few short phrases designed to make us think about what our worst moment of last year was and why we felt that way, I was able to see what I feared most about the situation.  I don’t mind telling you that the worst moment was actually learning that a friend’s cancer came back.  She asked us to think about the feelings surrounding that and write down a few words to describe it.  Previous to this, Lindsey asked us to write down our best moment and words to describe it.  My best moment was completing yoga teacher training.

So Lindsey asked us if we saw parallels…were the words on the opposite end of each other?  I immediately saw the connection for me.  As most of you know, I have battled invisible disease for a long time.  I know what it feels like to get bad news from a doctor and to think that there is no hope, even if it’s just that split second where they tell you the news.  So for that split second when D told me her news, I felt what she felt.  Okay, maybe longer than that because that is what I do…but after that, I was like no.  The opposite feeling is my best moment.  I felt strong and healthy.  I knew that was what I wanted for my friend and I knew that the feelings surrounding that were what my group of friends worked so hard on trying to create for D.

It was very powerful for me to see what exactly I want to create for my circle of friends as well as myself.  It was powerful for me to see why I had to let go of friendships that didn’t want the same for me last year as well as why I had to let go of any residual feelings surrounding feeling weak or hopeless.  I was now in the zone to create the opposite.  The circle of women yesterday were trying so hard to get past whatever was blocking them that I knew that’s why I had to let go of the past.  Whatever is meant to be in your life will find a way.  I believe that.

3 Tips on Learning to Release What Weighs You Down:

  1. Envision the BEST version of you and what that looks like and feels like.  Lindsey had us look into a mirror and see the worst version of ourselves and the best.  We forgave that worst version of ourselves and thanked her for getting us to the point where we are today.  It was empowering to forgive her.  We then embraced the best version possible of ourselves.  We allowed her to step fully into the light and move forward with us.
  2. Explore the feelings behind what is weighing you down.  Not the actual thing, but what is it about those feelings that is holding you back?  Why are you holding onto those things?  Do you think you can imagine a better outcome?  It is too late for that now, so release the feelings, but instead work towards the opposite of how that made you feel.  If you need to, thank that situation for whatever good it taught you and use it to move forward from that place of pain or unwanted emotion.
  3. Make a new plan for the best version of you.  This is the part where you really have to be diligent in what you allow into your space.  This is YOUR space and sometimes things are easier said than done.  I know this.  You might not be able to control the outside situation, but you can control your thoughts and how you react to things.  If you are about to react in a way that would not propel you forward, as I have said in the past, try hard to make a different plan.  An example would be one I use for my yoga students…come to the mat and the rest will take care of itself.  Don’t worry about what you CAN’T do.  Instead focus on what you CAN do!

I received a wonderful compliment yesterday after my yoga flow.  I wasn’t sure what the new student was going to say, but she said is that how you always teach yoga?  Me: Yes?  She then proceeded to tell me she loved how I integrated the entire mind/body connection into the class.  I truly believe that yoga is a very powerful healing tool and it teaches us to move in a flowing meditation right on our mats.  We learn NOT to be concerned about what the person is doing right near us.  Not to be concerned about body image, or our abilities.  I fully believe in focusing on what you can do and to take that knowledge and move forward into the best version of you for this coming year.  I know that you can do this!

For more on the mind/body connection, read about my 4 Weeks to Wellness course here.  NEW!  See the Head|Heart|Health tab for more help.

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