Too Busy Mopping Up the Floor to Turn Off the Faucet!

How often in life do we focus on treating the symptoms instead of getting to the root problem? Please take a moment here to pause and reflect. We all do it, we’ve done it and many of us are living it; daily.

It seems that each year that passes the expectations increase: work, life, home, social media. I find myself, especially at work, multi-tasking “to the max” (showin’ my age here) and then wondering why I’m tired and then later having difficulty sleeping.

Yet, in my work I help clients find a balance between self-care and care of everyone else. Some are more receptive than others. Some resist even the most basic of changes to help themselves live better.

It took me decades to figure out how important a daily routine of quality self-care for myself was, a routine I’m still tweaking. I cannot imagine where I’d be without it.

Today, where can we begin to take the time to turn off the faucet, so that we’re not just continuously mopping the floor? Where can we create space in our over-scheduled lives to care for our own physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs? “Waiting” until the next break, vacation, holiday, day off, etc just kicks the can down the street. Be joy now. Bring it! 

Love anyone or everyone by taking care of your basic needs! The world will thank you!

Namaste

Celebrating the Pause

Yesterday marked the half-way mark between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. It is interesting that many of us may also find ourselves in transition during this time. I most certainly do!

There is a mixture of excitement and restlessness here. As a very goal-oriented person, it is a challenge for me to feel settled when not working on specific goals. Learning to surrender into this space of unknowing, as if awaiting my next set of orders, creates some anxiety for me. However, I’m learning to recognize the parts of me that want to push and push; pushing is so exhausting!

A great meditation on Insight Timer, which found me, is subtitled “Divine Laziness.” There is so much beauty and wisdom in this space between; in the surrender. Breathing deeply into the unknown also gives a sense of freedom.

May we each find peace in the spaces between what was and what is yet to be. There is SO much potential here, if we can just be patient enough to allow it to be. 

Namaste

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UnHome for the Holidays: Breathing through the Holiday Blues

When I was younger, several family friends found the holidays depressing. This perplexed me, I wondered how people weren’t joyous during the holidays. Now I understand. This year marks the 4th Winter Holiday Season since separation, and eventual divorce. Having two young children who are now “forced” to split their holidays between parents, this time of year brings to the forefront the loss of the “Norman Rockwell” image of family that I have held since a young age (sometimes with a white-knuckled grip) in my mind.  So while I can still find joy in the holidays, there is an ever present longing that I am keenly aware may never be filled…and part of me blames myself.

Breathing in, I feel the grievances of childhood ideals. Just for this moment, I choose to not question them, for to do so would be to question my right to feel the losses; losses which are palpable for me at the moment. 

Breathing out, I feel my grasp on the ideals slowly slip away.

Breathing in, I allow this cycle to repeat: allowing the feelings and the ideals to be, then allowing my grip on them to release.

So now I feel better about Christmas, at least. Now to move onto New Year’s Eve, another year in which to celebrate being single, while grieving the vacancy at my side. 🙂

May we each find a greater sense of peace about where we find ourselves in life during this more sensitive time of year. May we further allow our grievances to surface, so that we may acknowledge and honor them, then allow our grips on them to soften, freeing us to enjoy greater degrees of freedom from our suffering. Peace begins within.

Namaste

Know that you are not alone in this. If your emotions are overwhelming and/or preventing you from activities that you normally enjoy, please reach out to someone who can help: 

  • National Suicide Hotline (US) 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat available 24/7
  • Mental Health Referral Hotline (US) 1-877-726-4727 available 8 AM – 8 PM EST Monday-Friday

Overcoming Indecision: A Tool for Path Finding

When unsure which path to take, one of the tools I have found very helpful to gain clarity is quite simple and effective. In fact, this is such a simple tool that it can be easily forgotten or even overlooked. So often we believe that complex situations require complex solutions, which keeps us stuck when we overlook something as simple as this body compass. Really, a compass is a quite simple device when we think about it, yet it can help us to circumnavigate the globe. 

In a relatively quiet space, feel into the soles of your feet. Allow yourself to become more fully present in your body. Feel yourself as you breathe in and breathe out. Place one or two hands on your heart as you simply imagine the various options you have been considering. Allow yourself to fully feel what your body is telling you. Trust what you feel as your body is telling you which path to choose.

Let’s say you’re trying to choose between turning left or right. See yourself in the car turning left. What do I feel when I turn left? Then see yourself in the car turning right. What do I feel when I turn right? Allow the signals from your heart and your body to show you which path is correct for you at this time by which one feels better.

Simply put: Follow your bliss by feeling your True North… and trust yourself to show you what is best for you at this time.

May we each appreciate the truth within our hearts and bodies; trusting that we know how to meet our own needs. 

Namaste

Seizing the Moment

How often do we miss fully immersing ourselves in the beauty of the present moment because our minds or our bodies are elsewhere?

Today, I am literally composing this post while my toes are dipping into the calm waters near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Yet, my mind is dwelling on the past or looking to the future. While I am more present now in my mind and body than I have ever been, I see where I’m holding tension in areas such as my neck and solar plexus.

Allowing this tension the space to breathe, I see where I fear being fully present. Somewhere I’ve told myself that being alive and being right here, right now, is unsafe. I block my gut with my muscles as if to armor up against the “other shoe dropping.” I concern myself with silly things such as trying to be sure I have the right saying.

This awareness brings a new softening. As it is in allowing the fears to have light shed upon them that they begin to abate. Once we see that what we’ve been thinking subconsciously is not the truth then we set ourselves free. We are free to enjoy life the way it is meant to be: more and more fully.

So I’ll sit here for a few moments more as the waves lick at my feet, taking away what is no longer meant to be…and bringing to me exactly what I need in this moment: a new sense of peace.

May we each find more of the gifts meant for us by being more fully present. May we shed the old beliefs which no longer serve us so that we may more fully receive exactly what we’re meant to receive: joy, peace and abundance beyond our wildest dreams.

Namaste

Stress Detox & Breathing Easily

In downshifting this past week and being diligent in self-care to detox, I began to notice how much I was struggling to catch my breath. No cold, not an asthma attack, just every breath seemed labored. Remembering comments from a friend and fellow blogger, I began to look into “air hunger.” This lead to the book Self-Help for Hyperventilation Syndrome: Recognizing and Correcting Your Breathing-Pattern Disorder by Dinah Bradley. Since then, I’ve been relearning to breathe easily.

Most of us think of hyperventilating as something that is acute and requires a paper bag to cure (use caution with this, and avoid if having an asthma attack). However, in the book, Bradley discusses at length how hyperventilation can also become a less dramatic and chronic breathing pattern that can cause some potentially serious, or at the least some very bothersome health problems.

Examples of symptoms include: fatigue, anxiety, lethargy, depression, muscle aches, muscle tension, chest pain, numbness/tingling, and shortness of breath. When examined by a physician, having tests performed, and blood drawn patients were left without any answers as to the cause of their suffering.  In the book, Bradley explains the physiology behind hyperventilation syndrome leading to the symptoms. Please seek immediate medical attention if you are having chest pains and/or shortness of breath! It’s better to get any emergency medical conditions ruled out. 

When we breath through our mouths or quickly through our nostrils, it activates the stress response which then reinforces the breathing pattern; one which then becomes difficult to break. Frequent yawning, sighing or feeling like you cannot catch your breath are signs that you may have a hyperventilation breathing pattern. Breath retraining and making some lifestyle changes may be helpful.

Wear clothing that does not restrict your body, particularly your belly and chest from moving. Sitting upright with good posture also supports better breathing, as slouching impairs the movements of respiration. Focus on the exhale, more than breathing in. Be sure to keep your mouth closed, if your nostrils are not congested, with most of your non-exertion activities. Try to make the exhale “low and slow” while slightly pulling in at your belly and keep the breath as quiet as it can be. At the end of the exhale, pause slightly and then allow your belly to relax with the inhale. Keep the muscles of your neck and throat relaxed while you breathe in.

I highly recommend the book, it has many suggestions for ways to help support breathing more easily. There is no need to struggle to breathe.

May we all breathe easier and enjoy life more deeply today and everyday.  

Namaste.

Allowing the Transformation

It is in allowing, instead of fighting against the shackles, that we set ourselves free.

It can be a challenge to have patience when we’ve decided to make changes in our lives. We often move from status quo to “green light go, go, go” in .24 seconds. When we push to have the changes take place, we create greater resistance as we are actually acting out of fear. When we rush we also ignore the parts of us that are holding back and not ready for the new. Out of fear we begin to create and new obstacles come into play.

As much of a challenge as it can be to do, once we decide to take those steps we must sit back and wait for the next steps to unfold; much like a rose. When we rush and push, we will be unable to hear the small quiet voice within giving us our next steps or instructions. Breathing into the need to push, leaning into it, and allowing it to exist, helps us in our transformation.

Here is a prime example. After a break up, I wanted to “be okay” with everything and to no longer be upset at him, myself, and the circumstances behind the broken relationship. Pushing to be better “right now” only resulted in my frustration growing larger and further blocking my ability to think and act clearly. Finally, I recognized what I was doing to myself: pushing past my own limits and leaving the broken pieces of me to fend for themselves.

When I find myself doing this, I find it best to do the following sequence:

  • Sit quietly (at least mentally) and allow as many of the painful emotions to surface as able. Take note of where they reside in the body.
  • Return to the center, and feel the mantra, “I am willing to love myself as God does, infinitely.”
  • By repeatedly breathing this intention into the restricted spaces within, the tempest falls apart with each mindful breath.
  • “Rinse and repeat” when the tempest returns, begin the process again.

While I’ve still not reached my final resolution, I’ve reached a greater sense of peace and calm in the midst of this tempest. When it begins to read its head up again, I return to this sequence; it is the path to freedom. For it is in allowing, instead of fighting against the shackles, that we set ourselves free.

Namaste

Allowing Through Heartache to Let Go

 

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Heartaches make us through breaking us, for in breaking apart the beliefs that we hold dear, we rebuild ourselves in better and better ways. This can be hard to understand when in the midst of heartbreak, for often we hold onto the pain, or we hold onto the good things that we “lost,” that we fail to see the full picture.

While heartbreak is a painful process to go through, there are ways in which we can make it easier for ourselves. Just as we cannot force a paper cut to heal, we cannot force our broken hearts to heal. In fact, by forcing the process, we end up delaying it further. It is through allowing the healing process that we arrive more quickly at our destination.

The first step here is awareness: seeing and hearing what we are thinking. When we see the process as a classroom in which we learn about ourselves, we become witnesses to our own rebirth. By becoming aware of our thoughts, we become present with what is happening within us.

The next step is being willing to see our thoughts, almost as if written on a chalkboard, while we sit back in our seats – witnessing them without punishing ourselves, or judging our thoughts. This can be a challenge, as we have usually spent our entire lives putting “good and bad” labels on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that we think or do. So here we put down the scorecards and allow our thoughts to flow (see, we’re allowing again). It is in this witness seat where we begin to see the bigger picture. Just as a student sees the lesson best when 1. in the classroom and 2. from the desk/not with a nose on the chalkboard, we must be willing to both be present as well as sit back some so that we can see.

The third step is to see the patterns that emerge. This is done by “rinsing and repeating” the first two steps: being aware and witnessing. With time, the patterns begin to emerge when we see our thoughts in the witness seat.

The next step is to allow the patterns to shift. Often, we want to force a shift as soon as we have a thought we don’t desire by forcing the change. However, this is like peeling the scab off of the papercut; we actually keep the undesirable thought energy in place.

When the pain feels too much to bear, it is important to keep breathing, to feel where we feel supported (the bed, floor, chair, etc), and to keep being aware. If we slowly count to 10, we can begin to feel the wave crest and then fall.

When I get stuck mentally, I find that my body also gets stuck. It is during these times that I begin to journal, stretch, walk/move, be grateful, or by taking a salt bath. Most of all: the most important thing is to KEEP BREATHING! The more areas of our bodies we can breathe into, the easier it is for the emotions to keep moving, too. For it is when we hold our breaths that the energy and thoughts get stuck, too.

Allowing to let go. It can be both more challenging and also easier than we may think. So please allow yourself to heal, to shift and to be moved.

Namaste

Breathing Freely Again

Usually my exercise-induced-asthma is triggered with running or higher level cardio. Today it was so bad while I was out for a walk, it made me wish I had used my inhaler beforehand. After thinking through several possible asthma and allergy triggers, I realized that this past month – and this past work week in particular – that I had felt as if I couldn’t “catch my breath.” 

Later, when I settled into meditation and traveled to “my cave,” the place where I speak directly with internal aspects of myself, the “asthmatic” was already there. Her breathing was such that she appeared to be having an asthma attack. She was anxious and afraid to be happy or joyful. In listening to her, she revealed that she was afraid to be happy. For her it meant something bad would happen and it would be just a matter of time before “the other shoe dropped.” 

After listening to her and allowing her to express her fears, without judgment nor denial, I was able to witness her transform. It was amazing that I was then able to breathe freely again. 

My fear of life, fear of joy, and fear that being happy leads to “the other shoe dropping,” were all keeping me from breathing and enjoying life. 

So now I ask: Where are you not fully enjoying life? What thoughts make your chest tighten and your breathing to be restricted? 

Shortness of breath can be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Please be sensible and immediately seek a medical evaluation if you are inexplicably short of breath. 

Namaste 

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