What to do with my emotions????!!!!!

What the fuck are my emotions good for anyway?!?! If this statement resonated with you, read on … If it doesn’t read on, too.

In my line of work I meet so many people who were never taught the answer to this question. They were brought up thinking that emotions were something to be tamed, controlled, eradicated.
The idea that emotions are not intelligence is lie. Emotions are a form of intelligence. They are your first intelligence system. The one that informs the meaning making system (i.e. Thought). You can tap this larger intelligence by embracing your emotions and learning how to effectively use and express them.

The ability to effectively use and express emotions is known as self-regulation. Self-regulation is important. It helps us get through our daily routine, create intimate relationships, parent effectively, and manifest the life we want, rather than the one we were handed.

The point is not to get rid of your emotions, but to use them to your advantage. If you are asking how the heck do I do that, read on.
First you must get good at tagging your own emotional experiences. My sadness and joy will look different than yours. Know what yours feel like by following the physical sensations it brings … slow down here take time studying your own experience … many emotions have similar sensations. For example anxiety/fear have a similar somatic (body) presentation as excitement. The way to know the difference is to pay attention to what triggers it, the situation, and circumstances taking place. These become big clues to what you are really feeling (note: don’t get caught by what others tell you you are feeling. Only you will know). Begin this practice by spending time each day noticing what you are feeling, thinking, and sensing. As you take this moment internally, notice what is going on around you externally. Aim for practicing 3-5 times per day. The point of the practice is to notice, not to change anything.
Now that you have a better understanding of what you are feeling emotionally, begin to pay attention to what triggered this emotion for you. This circumstance or internal state gives you clues as to how to deal with the emotion. Did you lose something you cared about? This may mean sadness and grieving is needed. Allow yourself to feel sad for the thing you lost. Did someone cross one of your boundaries or did something unjust happen to you? This might mean you are angry and need to set a boundary, say no to something or someone, or take an action to make an injustice right. Is the physical sensation one of openness, warmth, or buoyancy? Maybe you are feeling happy, joyful, or content. Look around, notice what triggers it, and soak it up.
Paying attention to the physical sensations using mindfulness (focusing only on the sensations for a moment) allows you to neurologically wire in new neurons for experiences. In any given moment there are thousands of choices, allowing yourself a deeper understanding of the experiences you want, makes it more likely you will choose the options that support these desires – what you want rather than what you don’t.
If you spend a lot of time noticing your sadness, despair, anger, guilt, shame, etc you are telling your mind to go find more of these. This is where your attention is, therefore what you find more of. I know this isn’t easy. Everyday I work with folks who suffer from depression, anxiety, psychological trauma, physical issues that impact mental health and I know changing thoughts and behaviors is not easy. However in the witnessing of human experience I know things follow attention. When one of my clients begins placing attention on what they want rather than what they don’t, they get better. Remember sustainable change happens in small increments. Begin by placing your attention on one more positive item today then add another tomorrow.
The other thing I know is placing this positive attention on things is not meant to sugarcoat all the shit that happens in life. It doesn’t fix problems, rather it gives you more strength to deal with them as they arise. When you are dealing with things as they arise they don’t pile up and become festering wounds that get infected and impact all areas of your life.
Last thing on emotions for today. They are ALL valid and welcome. All of them. Even the uncomfortable ones. My hate informs me as much as my happy. My guilt helps me grow and my shame tells me where I need to step up, listen to myself, and how to connect to my community, should I want to. My anger sets strong boundaries so I get a stronger sense of self and more depth to the relationships I want to deepen. Can my emotions become toxic? Absolutely.
That’s why it’s so important to deal with them as they arise instead of pushing them away. If I don’t honor my anger and set a boundary my self esteem suffers, soon my shame builds, and then I might get stuck believing it will never get better … aka despair. Getting stuck in despair can lead to depression and now I’m stuck in ruminating thoughts about how horrible I am so I don’t get out of bed and my daily activities and relationships suffer. The spiral can be a slippery slope and hard to get out of.
The good news is, the same why I can go down … I can also go up. I spend a moment deepening my knowing of my joy, and because I know it better I have it more often. As a result I find more opportunities to build it, and I find myself in situations with people I enjoy who support me. My self esteem builds because I am doing things I feel confident in and the people around me are accurately reflecting me. This helps build my personal sense of self authentically and congruently (with how I too see myself). Now I’ve got a stronger sense of self, take on new challenges, and begin to engage in life more fully and more inspired.

Body Mindfulness

I’m sure you’ve heard of mindfulness, and I would bet a number of you practice, but what about body mindfulness? Sure, in flexibility training, yoga class, or pilates you notice when you are asked to check in. What about when you run, bike, climb, shoot the ball, or skate? Do you focus your attention on where you are in space, how your body feels, and the sensations you experience? Here’s three steps to creating more body mindfulness.

Mindfulness allows us to focus our attention as a “Witness”. This allows space to observe what is going on around us and within us without attachment to the activity, thought, emotion, etc. From this point we have more access to our internal wisdom and therefore are better able to effectively meet the challenges in the given moment.

First, begin by setting an alarm on your phone, watch, oven timer, computer, or another way you can remember to do a “moment to pause”. Set it to random times throughout the day. This way you are training your mind to reflect despite your activity levels.

Next, pause when you hear your alarm. Notice how much you feel connected to your body. Stop whatever you are doing, take a deep breath and feel it all the way to your feet. Notice your feet on the support they are touching, then move to the legs – notice the front vs the back. Then your torso in space. Is is tilted to one side, twisted? Then pay attention to your arms, your hands, your shoulders. How do they feel? Finally, notice your neck, your head, your face. It may help you to close your eyes or choose a gazing point. Soften your gaze so you aren’t distracted by visual stimuli.

When you have finished the above it may be helpful to notice how in your body now. Is it different? How so?

Then return to your task and your day. Next bell check again. Notice any differences throughout the day. Over time this exercise allows you to gain more wisdom about your personal process, adds space in your day, and helps refocus your attention. See how you feel after a few weeks.

Planning for Fitness Success

This week’s idea for healthy living = PLANNING

It’s Fall, back to school, and illness season. So planning will be key. If you haven’t paid things forward it will matter that you determine your strategy to get through the season and how to maintain workouts if you get ill. How will you adjust your schedule for busy days or days/weeks you feel like crap. Falling completely off the wagon doesn’t seem to be the best option because most have trouble getting back on – Damn horse ran fast after I fell off – SO … here are some tips for planning balance in your life.

1)      Determine what you can do – maybe you usually workout an hour but the first week of school or during a big project it might be 30min a day or 2 15min segments. Maybe find activities that you can include for calorie burn like parking and walking or picking events with friends that include activities to participate in.

2)      Pay attention to food – if you aren’t working out as much or hard you may need to cut back on calories – often easier when sick than during a busy time. So just notice and maybe choose the salad and lean chicken, smaller portions, or eating less snacks throughout the day – don’t go too long between meals or you’ll tank your blood surgar.

3)      Know this is how healthy living works – life happens, we get sick, go on vacation, have a whole town party for a week where we dress up. Give yourself a break and keep postive. This is the stuff that makes life worth living and if you can strike the balance between healthy eating, working-out, and living you are doing it. Your horse won’t take off with your wagon – you’ll have no trouble living the fitness lifesytle if you have put some effort into planning for life.

Endings and Beginnings

Here we are at another year end. How was your’s? Did you meet some goals? Re-evaluate others? Did you reach what seemed to be an impossible challenge? Did you fall short of an important task? 

Spend some time reflecting on your year. For many we are very good at coming up with what needs to change, creating the goal, and then moving through it or beyond it without a way to measure our progress. All movement, even the ones that feel backwards, is progress. Here’s a worksheet to help you reflect on your year and get ready for the next year of your growing wisdom.

What do you want more of? 

 

What do you want less of?

 

What needs a small change? 

 

A big one?

 

Who do you want to be in the next year? 

 

How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?

 

What rewards you for your efforts?

 

How will you re-evaluate your progress throughout the process? (daily, weekly, monthly, project based, etc).

 

What does success look like for you?

 

Glancing back at the above – what else needs your attention?

 

And are these goals truly yours?

 

Repeat this process as needed. Remember it’s precision not perfection and the journey is what matters most.

10 Healthy Things I’m Thankful For

We have arrived at the start of the holiday season. Regardless of spiritual beliefs this is a time of introspection and reflection. A time to assess what you have, where you are, and dream about what comes next in your life. Research shows when we are thankful we invite more of those blessings into our lives. Here’s a short list of things I’m thankful for. Maybe you’ll resonate with some and quite possibly add your own. 

Comment on our Facebook Page to add your gratitude items. Community is a great place to share our gratitude and we all reap the benefits of reading others’ thankful prayers.

  1. My body & its health
  2. My mind’s ability to challenge me (in a variety of ways – at least I stay on my toes)
  3. Family (including my dog)
  4. Friends
  5. Meaningful Work
  6. Yoga
  7. The smell of snow in the air – means I’ll be hitting the slopes soon!
  8. Good (healthy) and tasty food that nourishes my body as well as my soul
  9. Tea – I love it anytime of the day!
  10.  A good book to snuggle with on these longer winter days

And your gratitude list …. ?

The Power of Mindfulness – Build Your Brain

So today on this longest day of the year – just for the next 30 minutes – commit to Mindfulness. Just to see what happens. Just to notice if something is different in your regular routine after you try it. Just get curious. Just see…

This isn’t about a new age-y trip or about religion or yoga. This is actually about building your brain circuits. So why not try it out. See what happens in your brain when you become mindful for a short time. Just notice, see what is different than before. Maybe nothing … but I’ll bet something shifts for you.

This isn’t about a new age-y trip or about religion or yoga. This is actually about building your brain circuits. So why not try it out. See what happens in your brain when you become mindful for a short time. Just notice, see what is different than before. Maybe nothing … but I’ll bet something shifts for you.

Begin by noticing how your body feels, your posture, your hands, fingers, feet, and toes. How are you breathing? How are you holding yourself. Make a commitment to return to noticing as needed.

Then allow yourself to become immersed in whatever project you are doing. Turn off music, put away any distractions, tell your co-worker to be quiet (nicely). Allow yourself to connect with each detail of your project. What are the colors? Textures? Sights? Smells? Sounds? of what you are doing.

Finally, each time you find you are thinking about the future or the past note it as thinking and allow those thoughts to move through and out. If it helps you can tell yourself you won’t forget anything important that needs your attention – but for now you are focused on this project and will come back to those important thoughts once you are finished here.

No judgement – this is a practice for a reason. It’s not easy. So just give it a whirl and notice how it impacts your day. Commit to yourself for just 30 mins – Go On, Give it a try.

Let us know how it worked for you and read other’s comments by adding your story on our Facebook page under this post.

Taking the Risk, Facing Your Fear

I was talking with my supervisor yesterday and we discussed how some people are afraid to try new things. This is not my nature and I am amazed when I am reminded how many people pass up opportunities because they are afraid. When do you hold back because you are afraid to leap or even step? Have you missed out on awesome opportunities in your life because you held back? How will you face your fear next time and not lose out?

Being able to discern valid opportunities that will move your life forward is important. Often many of us are afraid because there is so much out there. We become overwhelmed trying to wade through it all. So it is very important that you are able to pick and choose which things you want to reach for.

First, get really clear on what you want. Do you want more health? Wealth? A more fulfilling relationship? A brighter garden? How can you know what opportunities are out there if you don’t even know what you are looking for? It is very important to get clear about what you want. Research shows us that what we are conditioned for we will see more of. This means if I am conditioned to think I can’t do something, I will find all the ways in which I cannot get it done. On the other hand, if I think I can I will look for solutions to getting it done when I get stuck because I believe I can.

Second, know your own limits. We all have them. And this means we all have strengths, too. It is important to know both. Once you have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses it will be important to find others who are strong where you are weak. This allows you to fill in the gaps in your own abilities. If your task is beyond the help of a friend, hire a professional to fill in your gaps.

Third, don’t be paralyzed by fear. We all get that last minute feeling of fear when we jump from the cliff into the unknown. Don’t let it stop you. Again, it is important to determine if the fear is telling you something you need to listen to, like don’t give all your savings to a Bernie Madoff type, or if it is a natural result of pushing your own limits.

Finally, enjoy the ride. Life is a journey and no matter what you journey you are set to embark on enjoy it.

The Art of Giving Freely

Usually at this time of year I write about New Year’s Resolutions. This year I thought I’d do something else. I was reading a translation of the yoga sutras and this morning’s discussion centered on giving without obligation. Giving freely.

As I finished my practice I began thinking about how one might give freely to themselves. How can I give to me without obligations? As this idea continued to grow in my brain I began thinking of how this concept could be applied to my fitness, my exercise, my free time, my family, my friends, and so on.

What if I gave myself freely to my exercise? This means no “I worked out today so I get to eat anything I want” no push – pull with my body and its shape, no deals made with myself regarding what I will get for “making” myself workout.

What if I just exercised because it feels better when I do? What if instead of bargaining the time so I can “make myself do it” I just enjoyed moving? What if I let go of all the numbers – my weight, how much I lift, how many minutes “I should” continue and just did what felt good for that day at that time? I know some of you are wondering how in the hell would I reach my goals or get clients to workout if there wasn’t some carrot at the end of a stick. I wonder, too and I am open to the possibilities it presents. We’ll have to see how it unfolds.

In the Sutra the focus was on giving for the sake of giving. Not for greed or expectation of something in return. It was giving for the goodness of it. Were you able to practice this over the holiday season with friends and family or were your gifts tied to invisible strings you’ll pull in someday? Interesting idea to give and not expect. Be honest with yourself and notice who you gave freely to and who you didn’t. Then take the next step and let go of your expectation of return and favors tied to your invisible strings.

The art of giving is really a selfish act. We feel better when we give freely and aren’t all tangled in those invisible strings – both those we have given and those we’ve received. Isn’t it time to be free?

Exercise Doesn’t Have To Be So Serious

Many of us work the grind. Over and over we do what we are “supposed to” only to feel a little bored and uninspired in our workouts. Kinda reminds me of the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercials. What if you exercise was more like play? Here’s how big kids (aka adults) can play!First, find activities that you like to do. Usually, these are challenging, stimulating on multiple levels, have a sense of focus and one pointedness. They allow us to do nothing but focus on the task at hand.

Second, don’t worry about numbers and goals, and “have tos”. I was watching my children play the other day and they have no sense of how much they are learning as they play – only that they are having fun. Try to create this element in your own play. Of course you are doing great things for your body and it feels like activity, maybe even like exercise, but you want to create a sense of fun, excitement, and frivolousness. Adding in goals, heart-rate numbers, sets, reps, time lines, and body weight can dampen spirits and drudgery creeps in. You are no longer doing the activity just because you enjoy it. You are no longer being mindful in the moment focusing on the activity at hand, instead your mind has gone off to charts and graphs of future goals.

Third, try something new, take your game to the next level, introduce a new skill, or attempt to focus on one element of your activity. For example: downhill skiing – when I attempt to focus only on my breathing the rest of my body follows and I become much more mindful of my body in space. This allows me to focus on one element of the technique with a sense of wonder and curiosity rather than goals and future benefits.

Finally, the sense of wonder and joy are key to keeping playfulness alive. If you have forgotten how to do this spend some time watching children play. They bring a sense of curiosity and wonder to their games. Some questions to ask might be:

What if we try it this way next time?

I wonder if I can make this jump again?

What if I move my foot that way?

What happens when I run this fast or in zig zags or stop and start?

How is it different when ________?

Playing is just as important for adults as it is for kids. So get your game on and take yourself to the park. Get moving, stop worrying, and reap the benefits of activity and mindfulness all in one fun, exciting, and inspiring movement session.

Find the Essence of Life

How do your days go? Do you move through the days looking for something, anything to light you up or do you find yourself loving your life experience? Many of us can probably relate to both experiences with one being more dominate in our lives. In addition, many of us tend to “go through the motions” of life rather than fully experience each moment as it passes. Have you ever thought of trying to get more out of life? Would you like to learn to live yours differently? You can. For many just the process of doing their daily tasks is too much. It sucks the life and our joy right out of us so we need to be vigilant and have an understanding of what makes us happy. If I let my planner get too full of all the things “I have to do” rather than balance between the have-tos and want-tos of course I’m going to be crabby!

You can make small and simple shifts in the way you think that can bring balance back to your life and your life will naturally become filled with essence. Begin by noticing where your attention goes all day. Who saps your energy, who brings your more, what tasks do you cringe at doing, and which ones can you let go of and delegate to others? Just begin to notice without trying to change anything. Jot your findings down if you’d like. Also, begin to notice what brings you joy, energy, happiness, and contentment. Who are you with, what are you doing, can you repeat these experiences? Again, just notice, write it down only if that feels like a good idea.

As you begin to notice what brings you joy, happiness, and contentment begin to notice not only the emotion but also your posture, physical feelings, actions, thoughts, and facial expressions. How do you change with your whole body? How do you send those positive feelings out into the world? Do you smile at people you don’t know, do you say kind words, do you let trivial things pass? These simple things have the power to change the world and they all begin with you living your life to the fullest and experiencing your essence each day.

Think it is too simple to work? Don’t underestimate simplicity. Try it for 5 days and notice what shifts for you. Notice your thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms, and how you treat yourself and others when you are living life more fully. Only begin to shift your activities when you feel ready to do so. Sometimes all it takes is slowing our thoughts down enough to get off auto pilot. At that point the pain of staying the same becomes to great to continue living the way we have been and we can begin the process of small changes toward creating the life we want.  A life full of essence – yours.