The Enthusiast! Enneagram 7 Guest Post

This is a guest post from G of bone&silver, who shares her experiences of discovering her Enneagram as a 7, which is described as the Enthusiast by the Enneagram Institute. If you would like to share your experiences with self-discovery through the Enneagram, please message me through gmail at “Tiffanybeingfree.”

Thank you, G, for sharing with us your journey as a 7!!!

Namaste 

~~

‘Do you know what Enneagram number you are?,’ I was asked. ‘Because I’m an Eight, and if you’re going to date me, you need to know what you’re dealing with, so take this book home today.’

Thus began my in-depth exploration of the Enneagram, which firstly saw me read the chapter about Eights and think ‘Phew, they’re a bit intense, I’m glad I’m not one of those.’

I skimmed through a few other numbers, got a bit bored, then asked a smart friend who used to teach Enneagram classes what he thought I was?

‘I can’t work out your number clearly G; you could be a Four, or perhaps a Two…’

I rolled my eyes, got super busy in my social life for a couple of weeks, then returned one quiet afternoon to that thick book.

Nope, not a Four (although perhaps my Mum is?). A Two? I don’t think I’m that “needy”- I’m a bit too selfish really. An Eight?? Surely not. But yes, I’m definitely self-driven and assertive/bossy.

I diligently decided to read each number, seeing facets of myself in each one, but nothing completely resonating… until I finally read about Sevens.

And then I almost heard a bell ring! There I was: easily distracted, a bit lazy, a happy social butterfly, superficial sometimes but bringing joy with me as my gift to others- it was oh so clear.

I was so impressed with the revelation that I attended a 3-day course with the Sydney Enneagram Institute, and easily recognized my fellow Sevens in the group: the ones who’d moved around a lot/changed careers more than once/not yet been long term happily married/made us all laugh/had interesting or unusual viewpoints/were a little impatient with the slow navel-gazing of some other numbers/were enthusiastic about going out for dinner afterwards/were at their best when grateful or generous.

With horror, I looked back on my 5 decades of living, and could see all the times where I’d run away, as a Seven determinedly fleeing a feeling of being ‘trapped’, including parenting, leaving deeply wounded hearts behind me.

In sadness, I reflected on my restless search for the next shiny toy, be it a lover, a new home, or even a whole new lifestyle. Variety please!

In humility, I learnt that I’m at my best when I practice gratitude for what I actually have, where I actually am, and with who I’m actually with, rather than always projecting forward into the fabulous future I am about to create, thereby missing the Now I’m truly in. That was a big revelation.

I also learnt that the bossy assertive side of my somewhat lazy nature comes from my Eight wing, which brought me back to thanking the original Eight who got me into this fascinating world in the first place.

I’ve since ‘tested’ most of my friends, using an online quiz if interstate, or my course notes if they live nearby, and am now pretty good at working out what someone’s number may be, based on how they tell some of their life story; or attitudes to events.

Knowing I’m a Seven, and that my teenage son is a Three, has smoothed many domestic clashes at home, while also providing an understanding of romantic challenges I will face if dating a Nine for example, or another Seven.

The Enneagram is fascinating; without doubt, it’s made me a better person, and given me greater compassion for the struggles and idiosyncrasies of my fellow travelers through this Life. It gave me the tools to catch myself in my patterns of reaction, whether positive or negative, and gain a little insight to allow a different choice; for this, I am profoundly thankful.

Guest Post: “The Defender” Enneagram 6 Wing 5

This is a guest post from a good friend of mine, Loreto, who showed me the power of understanding both the overall Enneagram System and my own number. He also showed me many of the tools included in the post “Understanding Personalities with The Enneagram“.

After reading the written description of my own number, I initially struggled with identifying with my Enneagram and doubted it. Needless to say, Loreto was confident and “called me out” on my Type 4, Wing 3. It was not until hearing a panel of other “fours” speak that I finally felt the connection. After this experience, I felt it best to have guest posts for each Enneagram type. Fortunately for me, Loreto was more than happy to oblige.

If you would like to share your own Enneagram experience through a guest post or a repost, please write me in the comment section!

I was introduced to the Enneagram at the start of a new relationship with a brilliant, poised woman whose self-awareness piqued my interest. While I’m typically untrusting of all things numerological, astrological, and anything that isn’t clearly backed by modern-day science, this new system was different. Personalities tests such as Myers-Briggs identify personalities as unchangeable while serving as a means to better understand oneself “as is” without change. As much as the Enneagram labels different personalities, the Enneagram also provides an outlook of what the best version of your personality can become. As a growth-oriented person, I was excited to see what my best self looked like. Enthusiastically, I took the 120 question online test and was labeled as a Type 6 wing 5, “The Defender.”

I immediately began pouring over podcasts and books trying to learn as much as possible about my newly labeled personality. A type 6 is described as a security-oriented, hardworking, skeptical yet loyal individual who is motivated by an irrational fear that their environment is inconsistent and unsafe. Sixes typically seek approval from different authorities, and struggle with trusting their own inner-guidance system. Sixes can embody the extremes of different characteristics. Sixes can easily go from courageous to fearful, from angry and sad to happy.

I could easily identify with these descriptions, and was immediately overwhelmed. I could clearly recall countless situations where I was too afraid to take action, where I was indecisive, and did everything I could to please those from whom I desperately wanted approval. If a 20-minute test was able to describe my characteristics with such clarity, what did my friends and family think of me? Did people actually respect me and enjoy my company, or was it all out of pity? Was every compliment, affirmation, or expression of love that I had received genuine, or was I too naive and needy to see that I was just being taken advantage of?

I felt a crushing pressure in my chest, and a cold-sweat dripped down my wrists. I had originally taken this test in an attempt to find a path towards enlightenment. Instead, I was left with more anxiety than I had ever experienced. After several weeks of this anxiety, I woke up one Sunday morning laughing at how ridiculous these insecurities were.

Then I sat down and folded a piece of paper into three columns. In the first column I wrote down my past successes, in the second I wrote down my decisions which were not influenced by others, and in the third I wrote down times where doubt and fear prevented me from taking action. For each item, I also noted my successes, failures, or whether I was too afraid to take any action at all.

The inaction category was the largest, followed by successes and then failures. As I went through my successes, I began discrediting my past wins by finding ways to improve.This skeptical mindset was exhausting, and I hadn’t gained much from it. Room for improvement doesn’t signify failure, and certainly doesn’t take away from success. By persistently picking things apart, I was wasting time by not taking action to see what would or would not serve me.

I finally ended this exercise and enjoyed the rest of my day. I felt care-free, laughed more than I had in months, and had fun. I went to sleep that night feeling confident, knowing everything I did that day was of my own accord. I had no doubt everyone with whom I spent time enjoyed my company, too.

As quickly as I fell into my downward spiral, I was also able to pull myself out of it by focusing on my values, and spending time in a community full of nonjudgmental, well-intentioned people.

Unfortunately, the plight of the Six is the ineffective habit of questioning the world around them. While it exposes different viewpoints, and allows for empathy in excess, it also creates an unproductive spiral of anxiety. Sixes have the potential to change the world, as long as they can drown out all of the fears and uncertainties around them.

Today, I have ended the relationship which taught me about my Enneagram number as it quickly became unhealthy and toxic. However, instead of feeling sad, I am grateful for gaining a new awareness that my skeptical, analytical, and fearful nature is also my greatest strength. With courage, I am able to create an environment which I desire; one of calmness, laughter, support and loyalty. I empathize with those who think differently from me, and care enough to find the goodness within them. For those I trust and care about, there is no doubt I am supportive, and have the potential to become their greatest champion.

Learning about my Enneagram number has also given me a sense of peace knowing my default anxiety is more of a quirk than a defect. So, while I may always wonder if the chandelier will fall in the middle of dinner, or if the careless alter server will light the entire church on fire, I can also learn to laugh at its absurdity. As for when tragedy does occur, I’ll be able to relax knowing exactly what to do, because I’ve already planned for it at least half-a-dozen times. While I may have more fear than others, it’s nothing new to me. It’s just another every day thing to adjust to.

Coming So

Exposing & Accepting Imperfections

Much of the first half of my life was spent hiding my perceived flaws and imperfections, even from myself. While it helped me to survive childhood, I’ve found that hiding was keeping me miserable. Through unmasking myself, blogging has gifted me with connecting with others who have also suffered by hiding their perceived flaws. It also helps me gain a new level of understanding by writing the process out further than I would in a paper journal, where I would most likely just vent. Finally, I have found there is transformative power within vulnerability for everyone.

What I share here are personal experiences which more often than not leave me feeling vulnerable in posting. These are first-hand experiences of what I’ve learned through exposing my flaws, often in day-to-day interactions that lead to a new understanding or awareness.

For instance, in the post The Right to Exist, I shared an experience I had that I would have avoided altogether in the past by either not going to such a busy place at a busy time or parking way out of the way to better suit others. Instead, I chose to go there during Starbuck’s morning rush hour and park where it was convenient for me, so that I could meet my needs for a meal. In the process, I also calmly stood up for my right to be there to the person who very rudely cussed at me; all things I’d have avoided before.

In its rawness, this incident allowed me to more clearly see where I and others have not felt the right to exist and take up space. Even though I’ve made many strides in the past 4+ years, I’ve come to recognize that this may well be an ongoing healing theme for me throughout the remainder of my life; a theme that is overcome by degrees. Yet I fully intend to keep chiseling away at it by continuing to live more and more authentically, exposing myself especially where I feel vulnerable.

In a recent dream, Christ showed me where our cracks are actually our strengths. With this in mind, I end with the following prayer:

May we each see our imperfections in a new way, for in exposing our vulnerabilities, we each can benefit by reaching new levels of potential by living life more authentically, by connecting more deeply with others through our shared courage and through supporting each other in living our individual truths. In living through our truths, we set ourselves free.

Namaste

Coming Soon: Wabi-Sabi: Imperfect Perfection

2018: Celebrating Wholeness & Completion

For 2019, I’m choosing to celebrate the New Year differently. For the first time, I’m going to ring in the New Year solo. In the past, I would have been in a panic to be alone. While I do have places where I could celebrate, I’m actually looking forward to the solitude. This desire is quite a shift for me and I believe the lessons I’ve learned from 2018 are a large part of it, having lead to a new experiences of wholeness and completion.

Overcoming Fears & Seeing my Strengths
As I look back over what brought me to this place of desiring solitude on New Year’s Eve, I can see the road was tough at times. In 2018, there were several significant events that lead to lessons in compassion, forgiveness and realizing my strengths.

This year, I lost out on a relationship because I felt emotionally left out and alone when he was over-scheduled and his life demands kept him away physically and especially emotionally. In my fear of rejection and abandonment, I grasped more strongly thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It has taken me most of the year to both see my own part more clearly and to have compassion and understanding of where he was coming from. Uncovering this process has lead to forgiveness for him, and even more so for myself. Through this loss, I learned compassion and forgiveness.

The breakup was untimely in that it was just a few days before my father had a brush with death. It was a one-two punch that threatened to take me under. I found that while my father was drowning in the bottom of a bottle, that legally I could do nothing if he refused care or treatment. Part of my lesson was one of surrender.

Once he chose to detox, due to his medical conditions, he was ineligible for inpatient rehab at any local facilities! He almost lost his life during the process when he had several detox seizures. Later, he fell and broke his back, further complicating his recovery. It was a difficult process for him, we’re all fortunate that his will helped him through.

This situation showed me both my strengths and weaknesses. I saw where my skills and tools both as a PT and spiritual traveler were called into action. Surrender showed up again when I saw where I needed help and turned to Al Anon. It was there that I learned that my father nor his addiction were my problems; my problems came from my own within.

It was up to me to focus on myself while having compassion for him; not fighting him to quit drinking. In trying to control my father, or a lover for that matter, I only lose control of myself and in so doing, steal from them their ability to recognize their own need for accountability. Much like the adage: you can lead a horse to water, you just can’t make him drink, I had to see where my tendency to help can be perceived as similar to waterboarding. While a bit of an exaggeration, the idea still stands. 

Later, still working through these circumstances, I witnessed a man tragically taking his final breaths. This rocked me to my core and lead me to a new understanding that life is brief, best enjoyed fully and that suffering is optional. This situation helped me to take the edge off of my need for perfection for perfection’s sake, recognizing the wasted energy in it.

My recent work with The Enneagram System has furthered my understanding of the struggle within each person and personality. While I am very much just on the river’s edge of understanding here, the take home message has been one of compassion, a form of surrender that leads to forgiveness. I see now where the vast majority of people are really doing the best that they can do. Our responses to others are often based on unconscious fears. As such, it is up to each of us to uncover these hidden fears, so that they no longer control and drive us. 

2019 Wholeness
For so long, I have felt this indescribable irredeemable deficiency* and sought external fixes to my internal lack. My personal fears whisper of lack, shame, rejection and abandonment. It is my duty to recognize these fears and the clues when they crop up so that I am not ruled by them. Writing has been one means to understanding and sharing my process to uncover the shame of my perceived deficiencies.

Through meditation, self-care (including writing) and a deeper spiritual understanding, I now see that I have been complete all along. Now I’m in a place where I can surrender into the truth that I am (and have been) whole and complete all along, as Unity intended. Now I see the feeling of an irredeemable deficiency is my blessing as much as it is my curse for it drives me into greater degrees of compassion and forgiveness.

May we each see our fears for what they are: our gift to propel us forward, or our curse if we allow it. May we see and experience ourselves in our highest truths, as we are each truly whole and complete. Through self-compassion and self-forgiveness, we see.

Namaste

*Irredeemable Deficiency is a term coined to describe The Enneagram Four’s Experience

Understanding Personalities with The Enneagram

I have spent much of my life feeling that there was something inherently wrong with me, having felt haunted by some “deep dark secret” that I could not touch nor fully understand. This feeling has been both a blessing and a curse. It both drives me forward into greater levels of self-exploration while at times it weighs me down and can inhibit my connection with others. Writing has been one of my vehicles for self-exploration and understanding. Then recently a friend of mine shared his experiences with The Enneagram System. In delving into the system, my self-understanding and sense of inner peace has greatly accelerated, helping to “lay to rest” some of the gnawing sense of shame from the unnamed “deep dark secret.” It is my hope that through The Enneagram that you will discover a greater understanding and peace, too. 

The Enneagram System
The Enneagram is a unique personality typing system that shows the interconnection between the nine basic personality types. Through this system we see how we are interconnected with all personalities, even though our basic personalities form the foundation of who we are. Each personality has 2 variants called wings, which reveal how the same basic personality can have variable expressions. The system also includes a continuum of how stress and wellness can affect each personality. We can use this information to move towards greater wellness and peace.

Enneagram testing* sites:

  • Enneagram Test with Instinctual Variants (free, no personal info required). This was my personal favorite, as it offers a broader continuum for each response with fewer questions making it “short and sweet.” 
  • Enneagram Test (free, no personal info required). This offers 3 options for each question: yes, partly and no.
  • The RHETI by The Enneagram Institute: ($12.00) This test was “either or” for each of 144 questions, which can be a challenge to choose between at times. 

*The challenge with the Enneagram test is that we can reply differently depending on where we are on the wellness-stress continuum, causing misidentifications. This is why the test results are reported with options and reading the various descriptions can be helpful.

Brief Descriptions of The Enneagram Personality Types, with links from the Enneagram Institute:

  1. The Reformer, Type One: The Rational, Idealist
  2. The Helper, Type Two: The Caring, Interpersonal Type
  3. The Achiever, Type Three: The Self-Oriented Pragmatist
  4. The Individualist, Type Four: The Sensitive, Introspective Type
  5. The Investigator, Type Five: The Intense, Cerebral Type
  6. The Loyalist, Type Six: The Committed, Security-Oriented Type
  7. The Enthusiast, Type Seven: The Busy, Variety Seeker
  8. The Challenger, Type Eight: The Powerful, Dominating Type
  9. The Peacemaker, Type Nine: The Easy-going, Self-Effacing Type

For more detail about the Enneagram types:

  • The Road Back to You: The Enneagram Story of Self-Discovery (book) by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Offers type-specific ways to become more heathy and to grow spiritually.
  • Enneagram Personality descriptions with Wings/variants
  • Typology Podcasts Hearing others describe their experiences within the same personality type resonated far more deeply for me than reading the written descriptions. The panel also gave insights into what the written descriptors meant, again giving greater acceptance.
  • How Enneagram and The Myers-Briggs Temperament Sorter Compare

The Types and Relationships
Once you know your own and another’s Enneagram types, you can look up the overview of potential strengths and weaknesses within all types of relationships, here.

Freedom in Understanding
It is my hope that you will have a greater sense of self-appreciation and understanding through “seeing” your own personality through the podcasts, descriptions and interactions with other personality types.

May we each find greater peace through greater understanding and appreciation of ourselves. 

Please feel free to share your type & what you discovered! My Enneagram: Type 4 wing 3.

Namaste

 

Growth Follows Grief

Grief is often seen as a roadblock to growth. More often than not, we get stuck in grief by pushing it away or sinking into it. The analogy I now see is that grief is like driving on loose sand; to struggle against it, we can get further trapped. To stop all together, we sink further into it. However, when allowed, grief can also bring forth a new level of growth. Just as with driving on loose sand, when we allow a gentle, steady movement, then we can keep going and grief becomes an engine for expansion. Driving on loose sand is also easier when we let some air out of our tires, another form of expansion, right?

What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.
Haruki Murakami

For several days now I’ve had a song stuck in my mind. The same lyrics haunting me at various times throughout the day. It is a song about loss, it seems an unrequited love after a woman’s death. The song also touches on incomplete grief, memories, and how the songwriter grasps at taking back control of his life through understanding the need to move through and past his grief.

I’ve attempted to block the song from my mind, have meditated on it, and finally just listened to it on repeat with lyrics and allowed the emotions to flow through. In allowing without pushing, without fretting over “why am I stuck here, again?” or without immersing myself into the feelings, they have moved through. Now I’m seeing where a new layer of understanding and growth has come through.

May we each allow the grief process to unfold, so that we may move into a new level of freedom. 

Namaste

P.S. Many life transitions can trigger the grief process and navigating through it can be difficult to do alone. Life coaches and counselors can help us with using tools to get ourselves unstuck. Please reach out, you are NOT alone; even though that’s often what it feels like. Find your strength through your vulnerability.

New Series & Cleaning House for Clarity with Tiffany’s Epiphanies

The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy.

Prologue
Just for a moment, I encourage you to reflect on the course of your life over the past few years. We can have such a strong tendency to jump from one life event to the next that we forget how far we’ve traveled. Right now, I am seeing how this has been such an amazing journey; yet there’s still so much to experience and explore.

Today (Tuesday) I’m also launching a series called “Tiffany’s Epiphanies,” a term that has been coined by several people who have worked closely with me over the years. My goal is to post these epiphanies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at least once a week. We’ll see how well my creativity will flow with this goal! 

Spiritually-Cleaning-House: The Dark Night of the Soul and The Breakdown
Sunday night, I was deeply triggered by something I saw that lead to what I now consider to be one of my toughest “dark nights of the soul.” These dark nights feel like death as the emotions feel physically eviscerating. There can be grief like no other.

In fact, I believe it is a mourning process for there is a sort of death for the part of us that needs to be let go, much like the caterpillar must die for the butterfly to be born. Think, too, of how many life transformations have ceremonies… it is to recognize the movement of life from one form to another. So this dark night of the soul is the death of what no longer serves us and, if allowed, it is the movement out of the darkness and into a new light. Which again brings to mind the caterpillar and the butterfly.

Overnight, I was incredibly restless and easily awakened by visceral pangs as the energy shifted (and no, it wasn’t food poisoning). My solace? Self-love meditations (via Insight Timer app) and The Ho’Oponopono Prayer: “I Love You. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” The person I was saying this to? Myself. The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy. I repeated this prayer overnight and into the next day whenever my emotions rose up. Also, as I typed notes at work, I listened to Heart Chakra Crystal Bowls on the Insight Timer App to support being more heart-centered and calm.

Physically-Cleaning-House: The breakdown leads to the breakthrough.
Once back at home, I literally cleaned house with a new fervor. As I scrubbed the tub, and the baseboards (don’t ask how long it’s been for either), an epiphany hit me square in the face (well, not literally). “If another human had treated your children the way this person had treated you, you’d be mother-bear furious. You’d support your child in getting the eff away. So why are you still entertaining these thoughts about this person?!” BOOM! Done. Mission: Accomplished. Heart UNbroken. AND WHOA! All that self-love really paid off!

There is another tool that I used this day, after I listened to this TED Talk about getting over heartbreak. The speaker, Guy Winch, suggests writing out a list of all of the things that someone you’re heartbroken over did not do well, and referring to that list when we begin to pine over that person. This is important for breaking the cycle of idolizing the person and our relationship with them so that we may heal. 

Epilogue
This week marks 3 years since my divorce was final; always a little bittersweet, especially in the midst of the winter holidays. Yet it also marks for me the beginning of a new journey, through self-discovery, self-love and sharing my experiences to help others through blogging; that journey being well over 4 years long now. 

Namaste

Fasting for Focus, Plus More

Just over 2 months ago, a friend was telling me how intermittent fasting (IF) had helped his focus. Intrigued, I started researching IF while trying this new way of eating on for size (pun not originally intended). Mind you, I am the woman who (before this) would not have skipped a meal without … consequences. “Hangry” had my picture next to it in the dictionary. So I was initially very cautious about IF as well as … skeptical. Now, over 2 months later, I am well into skipping breakfast, and sometimes more as I have found my focus is better and so are my energy, stamina and overall attitude towards life (yes, I know, it can seem unreal). Along the way, there have been some surprising, some not-so-surprising and some interesting side effects of IF to share. Then at the end, I’ll share some tools and links to science-based articles and posts, so you can explore more if you’d like.

As a result of my first-hand experience and the research I’ve done, I see IF as giving my body a break from digesting, assimilating and (improper) storing of food energy. This post touches briefly on the many positive “side effects” of fasting. I encourage you to keep an open mind as you read. Fasting offers different physiological responses than restricted calorie “diets.” As many of us have experienced dieting and the perpetual low blood sugar that results, we equate dieting with fasting. These are two very different beasts. Please treat them both with respect. 

Less Sleep
Overall, I sleep less and I wake up more easily in the morning – this is with less caffeine, too. Most nights, I sleep between 5-6 hours and feel energized. As such, it is easier for me to get out of bed, yes, even in the (almost) winter! In the past, I was “sleeping in” until the last minute most fall/winter mornings. Now, I’m up before the sun even on the weekends.

More free-time and money
Cooking and preparing fewer meals means more free-time and less money at the grocery store…well, and less meal-prep stress. While this makes complete sense to say now, these were initially unexpected side effects for me. I’m also snacking less, which means less money on expensive snack bars. Most of my calorie intake is now from more savory meals, and some sweets.

LESS Hunger
This one surprised me. Well, it still does. After the first few weeks, I’ve found that my hunger has actually decreased, as long as I am eating enough. It will make more sense if you have time to read this article about the hunger hormone, Gherlin, which increases weight gain while it increases your appetite! 

More energy and desire to work-out
While this all sounds counter-intuitive, I have MORE energy for the gym. Research even suggests it is better to workout while fasting. Honestly, if I had not experienced this myself, I would not have believed it. So I understand if you are also skeptical.

Now I look forward to working out. I’m hitting the gym more regularly and I feel so much better about myself and my body. WIN-WIN.

I will say, however, that I would personally refrain from starting a new workout routine during the first few weeks of IF (new meaning not already a well-established routine), as it can take some time to adjust to the IF regimen. 

Fat Loss and Muscle Definition
While I have lost some “scale weight,” most of my weight loss has been in inches of fat –  particularly fat around my waist, thighs and upper arms. Yes, I still have a “belly,” however, it is much more slim than it was just a few months ago. AND, I can also safely say that this is the smallest it’s been since before graduate school (and kids) with the added bonus that IF has required easily less than a quarter of the effort of a caloric-restricted diet (like WW). For the most part, I have not consciously changed my diet, just the time that I eat. In fact, I’ve even stopped tracking my foods.

Again, weight loss has not been my focus, it has just been a nice side effect to look and  feel better in my skin, well, and jeans.

More Desserts, Yet Fewer Sweets
While I buy more cookies and treats (I rarely trusted myself to have them in the house before), now I find that I eat fewer of them as my sweet “sensitivity” is greater, so I do not indulge in as many sweets as I did before. In other words, I enjoy the sweets I do eat more, consuming less of them. 

Heightened Senses & Intuition
Perhaps this is also part of why I enjoy fewer sweets; my senses of smell and taste are more sensitive. After a fast, especially longer ones, I find that the food tastes so incredible that I eat less of it and enjoy it more.

Intuition can be more challenging to quantify. Suffice it to say, my intuitive voice is louder, more active and accurate.

My Personal IF Steps
When I first started, I was doing a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour feeding schedule. It took me about 1/2 the first week to feel comfortable with not eating for 16-hours straight.

In fact, the first few days I really had to “breathe through” the belief that I was literally going to starve to death if I waited another minute to eat. This is a sure sign of psychological hunger, by the way. As such, it can be easier to fast initially when one’s schedule is more busy, starting 3 or so hours before bedtime to take advantage of our normal sleeping fasting routine.

About a month of so into IF, I began to extend the fast to 18-hours after I read research that the benefits of IF really “begin” after about 16 hours. On kid-free weekends, I also extend the fasting periods for as long as I feel comfortable without allowing it to feel like a punishment.

Strategies That Support IF

  • See IF as a break from eating instead of as starvation. Starvation is when you’re not eating and you have NO idea when you’re next meal may be. 
  • Drink lots of water. Sometimes I add a pinch of salt to give it some flavor.
  • Herbal (non-caloric) Tea helps. Matcha has also been ranked as a good hunger suppressant.
  • Know the difference between physical and psychological (or emotional) hunger.
  • Avoid punishing yourself with extending the fast for too long OR overeating when you break your fast. Think the long haul here, if you punish yourself with it, how long are you really likely to stick with it?
  • Be flexible with your feeding and fasting schedules. This can go a long way to support your success. Rigidity here may lead to failure of your program.
  • Avoid boredom, or you’ll quickly find out how much you eat to fill the time.
  • Meditate or keep busy during fasting times. I find that too much down time can make for a difficult fast (late-night TV is the WORST with all of those food ads; those marketing companies know what they’re doing….)

Yes, My Morning Routine Still Includes Coffee & Some Unsweetened Almond Milk
When I first started IF, I was drinking black coffee only, then I read this article that talks about how caffeine can actually support your fast. The author also states small amounts of unsweetened nut milks do not break the fast. While reviews of this practice have been mixed, for me, I’m still maintaining the positive benefits of IF WHILE also enjoying my AM coffee more.

Some of the science
Does Coffee Break an Intermittent Fast? by Mark Sisson
YouTube: Dr. Satchin Panda
YouTube: Optimizing Your Workouts While Fasting with Thomas DeLauer
Study finds fasting 72 hours regenerates the entire immune system

Tools
Tracking App: Zero – keeps track of your fasting times and you can set to count up or down to feeding times, customize the time that’s right for you.
Instagram: @Fastingnews “for all things fasting”
Facebook: Also has moderated support groups including: Intermittent Fasting and Delay, Don’t Deny.

Epilogue
Intermittent fasting has been an interesting journey for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and find that I am snacking less, have more energy and am less weighed down: literally and figuratively.

The first week may require some adjustments and yet I feel if you find these side effects intriguing that it would be good to do some research. It would also be a good idea to check in with your physician first, too, especially if you are taking prescription meds that require food.

May we each find the dietary regimen that works best for us. 

Namaste

Ease & Flow: The Law of Attraction

There are words that support us and other words which do not. Many of us have marinated for years in negativity that we have learned from others, and that we have carried forward. The good news? We can change this if we wish!

To break free from the habit of negativity, it is imperative that we both recognize the habit and then put something new in its place. In hearing about a game* that Esther Hicks (Law of Attraction author and speaker) often plays, I sat down and typed out as many uplifting words as I could think then plugged them into the WordArt.com program to generate the featured image.

What uplifting words come to mind for you? Are there word pairs that seem to fit well and that resonate strongly for you? If so, repeat them, especially when feeling triggered. Become your own cheerleader; we each deserve to be our very own best friends. 

Namaste

*In the game, Hicks brings to mind a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet. She finds that this game brings her into a state of peace and greater alignment with The Divine, a place she calls The Vortex. If you are interested in learning more, you can easily find audio tracks on YouTube. She has also co-authored several books with her husband, Jerry.

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