How to Connect your Body & Mind

 

When big things are happening in my life, when I feel the most busy and in danger of the to-do list being in charge, the most effective way I know of getting back in control is to sit in silence for 10 minutes each morning.

It took a certain amount of discipline – ok, let’s be honest, a good deal of conscious effort – to start getting up early for this, but it has been worth it. If nothing else, I love that the house is all mine, that the time is all mine, that the quiet is all mine to enjoy and use as I need & desire.

This is something I do before I get dressed or check my phone/email/Facebook or my to-do list; before I even think about making breakfast or lunches. I spend 15-30 minutes getting clear on who I am in this moment, and rewiring the disconnect between my mind and my body, before any of the outer world starts its inevitable invasion. As soon as I get up, I meditate.

This isn’t something that came to me easily.

Every time I tried, in a yoga class or because I knew I “should”, I would get squirmy and my ever-chattering mind would take me down rabbit holes of whirring thoughts & worry. I figured, “I’m just no good at it,” and gave up on myself far too quickly.

Of course it wasn’t working. Those occasions were so few and far between that I never got any real practice. How many times have I explained to my kids that skating or drawing or swimming or guitar or spelling gets better the more you do it. As with any of those activities, the more often you try, the better you get, the more it evolves with you, hence the word practice for meditation, for yoga, even for professional services. It’s about the repetition, as much as it’s about testing out different techniques, stretching your limits and honing your skills. If one way doesn’t work, try something else.

My homeopath directed me to a website that got me over the hump. It had straightforward explanations and a simple guided audio to follow for 8 days. (headspace.com if you want to give it a shot – I’m not trying to sell anything here, just sharing resource that’s free and effective.) Their analogy of thoughts in relation to self, like the clouds covering the sky, was the lightbulb I needed to understand and be able to follow. The blue sky is there regardless of the size, shape, density or colour of the clouds blocking it from view.

It took quite a few tries – religiously practicing every day for 10 minutes – before I got past all the clouds (thoughts in my head) to the blue sky beneath them. What I discovered there was the most remarkable place of grounded, open, strong and vulnerable beauty.

I was in touch with Me, my soul, my being at its very core; my power.

Sometimes the contact is fleeting, other days I can sink into it fully. Even if I never get there at all on a given day, knowing that it’s perpetually present in me is enough to fuel my day. “I am here!”, no matter how good or how shitty things might get later on.

Now that’s the other remarkable par: days don’t get too bad anymore. This shift was entirely unconscious and so subtle it took a while for me to notice. It seems that knowing my truth is there and constant, the rest of life’s ups & downs don’t hold the same barbs that would get me caught up in drama or anxiety. I am better able to ride those waves of life with more flow.

In the 2 years since I truly started a meditation practice, it’s grown and evolved to include prayers to the natural universe for support (usually while I walk); petitions for concrete help when I need it; pulling Tarot and other cards as inspiration, motivation or a theme for the day’s mantra. I also nourish my soul and enrich what has come out of meditation with affirmations and journal writing.

My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time for myself, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention. In the coming weeks I’ll be discussing how to stay focused despite the emotional whirlwind that is your life right now. (Sign up in the box below so you don’t miss the coming instalments of how you might do the same.)

What do you do each day to connect the different parts of your self? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Know someone else who needs permission to focus on herself before the day gets away from her? Send her this post using any (or all!) of the buttons below.

Better Eating Habits Made Easy

“What the hell do I eat?!?”

Freeze frame on the woman in my office.

Deer in the headlights. Panic stricken.

A little over an hour ago, she walked in with a smile on her face. We exchanged pleasantries then she proceeded to tell me how the inflammation/hormones/lack of sleep is affecting her body and her life.

She walked me through a typical day, we talked about when things started to go awry, then we dove beneath the surface. We explored the ways her life situations contribute to her symptoms. We focused inward, listening to her body’s clues about what it needs.

Through it all, she followed my lead and answered my questions with curiosity and that raw honesty you bring forth when you’re committed to doing what it takes to fix this thing once and for all.

Then we got back to the practical side of things. The lifestyle shifts and food suggestions that will reduce her symptoms and help her body rebalance. This is when I explained how ___________ (gluten, dairy, sugar, refined food,…) are part of the problem and she’d do better to do without.

That’s the moment when the deer stepped onto the road. “There’s nothing left to eat!”

You’d think I’d just told her we needed to cut off her arm.

It’s the first reaction, isn’t it?

Regardless of what the doctor or the naturopath has explained, or despite test results that show a clear sensitivity to certain foods, a wall goes up.

Before you open your mind to the possibilities the changes present – among them feeling better! – the first thought is that there’s nothing left to eat.

It’s like when you take the same route home from work every day, then one day there’s a construction detour. Do you happily trust the detour signs to get you where you need to go, or do you go into panic mode because your routine has been sideswiped?

Resistance is the ego’s way of making sure you stay safe. Its definition of “safe” being “familiar”. If there’s one thing we all resist more than anything else it’s change – stepping out of the ol’ comfort zone and into the unknown.

Resistance also smacks of your inner teenager rebelling when she’s told No.

When it comes to food and eating habits, treading into the zone of resistance and rebellion is par for the course. Your brain, your gut and your emotions are hard-wired together more tightly than that tangle of string in your kitchen junk drawer. Pleasure, punishment, associations, comfort, control all balled up with fears and skewed needs for love and attention.

So, even if you’ve made a conscious decision to change the way you eat for the sake of your health, it takes a bit of time – and potential backsliding – to sort out the knots and get some new habits in place.

Sure I could jump in and give you a list of ways to replace the poor choices for better. You could browse the cookbooks at your local Indigo or Google x-free recipes and find more ideas than you’d ever have time to use.

Before you can go there, though, you need to make friends with that rebellious teen. Settle the panic from the inside so you have more success on the outside.

Rather than run with a list to the health food store, grab your journal and ask yourself the following 3 questions:

1. WHY are you making these changes?

The first response here might be “because the doctor/naturopath/osteopath told me to”. Maybe you’ve seen a friend have success with a particular eating style. Maybe you’re just trying the next thing on the list of trends that may fix your “thing” once and for all.

Which gets to the next layer of response: fixing your thing. Do you want to lose 15lbs, sleep better, have more energy, stop being in pain after every meal…?

Sure, those are all part of why you’re cutting out some of your favourite foods. Now look at why those things are important to you.

How will your life improve or be different after those pounds are gone? How will your parenting, marriage, career shift once you’re feeling better? What parts of your life are you putting off because of these issues?

2. WHAT’S preventing you from making the changes?

Perhaps it’s the practical steps that have kept you stuck. “I don’t know what to eat.” Fortunately, this one’s easily rectified thanks to books, the internet and professional advice.

What else is holding you back from getting closer to your health goals? I usually phrase this with clients as: What are the benefits to staying in this state?

Benefits to being fat, tired and in pain – is this woman insane?!?

Breathe into that question. Sit with how it makes you uncomfortable. You may even want to put it on the backburner for a day or two. Then come back to it. Gently.

Does the added weight keep you connected to your late father? Help you establish your place in the family or at work? Does your pain get you special attention? Does the lack of energy allow you to keep playing small?

There’s no judgment in what comes up here. No shame in understanding your motivations and beliefs.

Only once you see them can you determine if you still need them or if you can pack them up and send them on their way.

3. How do you want to FEEL?

What’s your dream solution?

How would you feel, how would you look, if the health issues were cleared?

How will you feel when those shifts in your life actually come to fruition? What are the actual sensations in your body when you’re living the life you want to be living?

I’ll bet there are variations of expansiveness, lightness, groundedness. I’ll also bet there’s a sense of safety, of feeling well in your own skin.

Whatever those sensations are, hang out with them and describe them to yourself or a partner until you know them in detail – the colour, the temperature, the texture, the image they remind you of. Notice how you sit and stand when you feel that way. Notice how you speak when you feel that way – both the words you use and the timber of your voice.

Let these sensations in your body become familiar. Let them permeate you with how safe & comfortable you are in that state.

Give the way you feel a name: Grounded Expansion. Blue Angel. River of Calm.

Now, set that as your intention. The Why of the changes you’ll make – dietary or otherwise.

Use it as your touchstone when the voice of panic creeps in to sabotage your efforts, or when your friends try to twist your arm to accept one small piece of fudge cake.

Ground back into your intention. Your safe zone. From there you can build new habits to help create and sustain that way of being on the outside. From there you can decide if, in this moment, a piece of cake to bond with friends is more important than the integrity of your digestive tract.

Holding the intention of who you want to be and why you want to be that person opens the door of possibility wide enough that the necessary changes no longer induce fear. They become almost effortless.

If you still need help with the details, by all means, get in touch. I’d be only too happy to guide you.

In the comments, tell us what your biggest block is when it comes to changing an eating habit. How did you overcome it, or do you still struggle with it? When you share your thoughts, you open the possibilities for others.

Know someone else who’s stuck making necessary changes to her eating habits? Send her this post using any (or all!) of these buttons.

A Healthy Expression of You

 

I’m so glad I embraced that new tradition of coming up with a Word of the Year. It has so much more staying power and room for possibility, rather than resolutions for things you’ll jump into whole-heartedly for 3 weeks, then let fizzle out and gather dust with those last few Christmas ornaments you keep forgetting to pack away.

For 2015, I chose Trust. It held a place of honour on my first-ever vision board (unless you count my adolescent bedroom wall). It underlay the decisions I made in work and life. It peppered my parenting. Trust allowed me to take a step back from the worried, need-to-control-every-outcome-in-my-life thoughts that spin around my head at 3 am.

A year based on Trust opened the space for more possibility and best of all, those possibilities showed up!

  • As deep connections with new colleagues and clients;
  • As more clients (aka more income);
  • As fewer stress-based knee-jerk reactions when the shit hit the fan;
  • As fewer inner battles around eating “good” food and steering clear of the stuff that does me harm;
  • As professionals trusting me to be the person they needed to flesh out their projects – a reflection of my own trust in having the ability to step up and be that person;
  • As fewer arguments, more ease and fun, with my sons;
  • As a more honest look at who I am and what I want/need.

As magical as the power of commitment to a word is, there’s magic in the discovery of the word in the first place.

How to Choose a Word

There are plenty of business and life coaches around with tools to help you find your word for the coming year. Some of them are based on core feelings, some on core values…or a combination of the two. (If you want a specific reference, let me know and I’ll send you some links.)

In the end, it comes down to being aware of what you say, what you write, which topics draw you in as you read – notice the words and themes that come up often. It’s the way that your soul gently invites you to explore what’s most important for your growth and healing over the next 4 seasons.

This is how it’s transpired for me in the last few weeks:

I’ve given a lot of attention to stepping away from letting the list of shoulds dictate my day, and moving towards decisive action.

Small moments of dishonesty – “white” lies, omissions, denial – mostly to myself – have been coming out of the shadows and tapping me on the shoulder for appraisal.

I noticed ways in which I held myself back from saying what I fully needed to say to a client, in a supervision group, to my child, to my husband. …Or let it out in a passive aggressive way.

I noticed ways in which I shied away from giving all I could have in a situation – food for a pot-luck, donations, gifts.

During an energetic medicine session, my throat became tight at the same time as the practitioner started coughing.

In part it was all about doing over not doing, saying over holding back. But as I sat with it, really let it all sink in as I journaled about it, the word came out loud and clear.

Expression

Perhaps it could be seen as an extension of the trust I built last year. Where trust required a bit more surrender, expression requires a verb. It’s the movement, the action, the saying of the words that come up when I trust myself. Expression is a fully honest manifestation of me – poured forth into a safe container held by people I trust to receive it.

I have a feeling it’ll prove to be the “master class” for what I learned about over the past year. As I prepare to commit to its development through 2016, I recognize it will also come with a more expanded sense of responsibility, as who I am is more openly expressed.

Regardless, I’m already excited about the magic it will create in my health, my relationships and my life.

What do you need more of in 2016? Would finding a theme word help you achieve it? Let’s find out: write your word here and open the possibilities for yourself!

Want accountability and moral support as you explore? Tell two friends (by using the share buttons below) and get them to join you.

Forget Resolutions! Do This Instead.

Yes, I’m jumping on the non-resolution bandwagon. Let me tell you why and what I’m doing instead to inspire and focus my intentions for the New Year.

It all comes down to the word: Resolution.

When I hear that word, it makes me think of solving a problem. It insinuates that there’s something wrong with me that I need to fix. Sure, I might do well to alter my eating habits or step up my exercise routine or line my financial ducks a little straighter, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve done anything wrong.

If you’re anything like me, you end up making variations of the same resolution year in and year out. You start the year feeling like Sisyphus as you re-solve the problem of getting that boulder up the hill.

The sensation that arises when I think about resolving to do something, is forced, like it’s coming from the shoulds. From outside of me. I feel like I’m smacking my fist into my palm saying, “By gum, I’m gonna do it if it kills me!” Or like a kid who finally gives in to what his mom’s been harassing him to do for hours: “Ok, fine!”

I prefer the word Commitment.

Commitment feels like a choice. It’s a decision to say Yes. It comes from the dreams. When the handsome prince asks for your hand, you have a choice.

Now, commitment doesn’t guarantee happily ever after. Nor does it require perfection. As I said in a post last year, commitment is the glue that holds you to your decision.commitment glue

Commitment says, “things may not have worked out as I planned today, but I’ll be here tomorrow to try again.”

Commitment holds forgiveness.

Where a resolution tries to rectify the past, commitment looks forward to the possibility of the future.

So, what am I committing to in 2015?

I’m committed to giving back: People, organizations, the Universe have brought me so much this past year – this past decade, really – it’s high time I return in kind more consistently. It may be a favour or a pay-it-forward consultation. It may be a donation – this year 25% of the Whole Health profits will go to organizations that sustain the earth, education and women in need.

I’m committed to Trust: my Word of the Year. I’ve discovered that for me, the opposite of fear isn’t love as many proclaim. It’s trust. Trusting myself as much as trusting others. Trusting Life.

I’m committed to working with a financial coach to ensure all my eggs are sorted into the best baskets. Sure, my papers are organized and I can do my own taxes, but sometimes we need an objective eye – one with more experience and expertise – to improve on a good thing.

Over to you. Did you make a resolution? Choose a word? What do you want to commit to in 2015? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

Click on any (or all!) of these buttons to encourage your friends to commit to themselves this year too!

image by bananaism via freeimages.com

 

The Power of the C-Word

 

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. *

You can feel it in the heat of the sun, see it in the buds on the trees, hear it in the excited chirping every morning. There’s a charge in the very air. And those thoughts of love soon turn to something more…

That’s right. I’m talking about Commitment.

Now, here’s a word that gets bandied about so much lately, it’s kind of losing its edge. We lose the weight of it, the implications of saying it. We’ve forgotten its power.

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s wedding. Listening to the words of the celebrant and hearing the vows, drew me back to my own experience of those vows. I reassess what we said at our wedding and ponder how we’ve gained strength (or strayed) from them.

The purpose of marriage, of publicly declaring your commitment to another, is that it provides a container in which to pour your relationship. It’s the safe space where you can sift the good from the bad. It’s the bucket of mortar from which you can start to lay the foundation for the relationship.

commitment bowlAnd this isn’t exclusive to marriage. The idea holds true for any relationship – personal or business, internal or external.

So here I am, weeks later, pondering all sorts of commitments in my life.

It was about a year ago that I made the commitment to show up in this blog every 2nd week to share thoughts, insights and practical advice with my clients & followers. (It took until July to get the actual ball rolling, but the intention was in place last April.)

It’s been remarkable to witness that decision coming into fruition. Despite fears that I’d get tired of it, or the occasional bout of writer’s block, I’ve managed to follow through. Sometimes the results are better than others, but I can feel my own comfort & dedication to both the craft and my audience blossoming with time & effort.

The commitment has been the glue that’s held my decision in place.

Unwavering.

Now there’s a word that always makes me think of my heart. It’s been beating (non-stop!) since 8 months before I was even born…and it’ll continue as long as I do. That amount of dedication fills me with unsettling amounts of awe. I’m completely undone by the idea that the Life Force is driving that action for me.

To go even deeper, a commitment by my spirit to incarnate sparked the driving force of my entire existence. The decision is made, the wheels set in motion, and there’s nothing to do but follow the ride to its completion.

It’s when I think of that steadfast gesture, by my soul and the Universe together, on my behalf, that I understand my own responsibility within that commitment.

I’ve been talking a lot recently about self-love, about self-care as a daily expression of that love. As for any beloved, it’s daily action that solidifies the foundation on which the relationship grows.

I commit to my own self-care & health as necessary to carrying through the intentions my soul has laid out for me in this life.

I’m getting kind of heavy here – are you still with me?

Let me put it another way:

When you take the time & effort to look after your health, you allow the best manifestation of your Self to shine. You afford yourself the strength  & energy to show up fully for your family, your work, your community, your environment.

You’re able to live the most enriched version of your life.

Because that’s the ultimate aim, commitment is one of the first things I require from my clients. I’m working on a contract they’ll sign, but for now, it simply takes the form of payment in advance.

Paying money is a concrete way of saying, “I’m all in!”

This (or any) type of pledge makes a statement to both the psyche and the Universe, so that they can align with your objective, and start working towards the picture of better health you hold.

Making that commitment means there’s a greater chance you’ll follow through.

It’s like when you take a course. You pay your tuition and get ready to work. And sure, who the teacher is will have a certain influence on your success, however, we all learned through high school and college that you get out what you put in.

Your chances of a satisfying experience are greater when you show up, fully present, to the lectures, when you read the required materials, when you apply yourself wholeheartedly to the assignments.

Same with your health. I’m merely a guide. Your chances of improving your health & well-being depend on how present and engaged you are to the process.

Which gets me to one last, but oh-so-important piece:

Commitment is NOT synonymous with perfection.

Like marriage, like school, like any part of life really, there’ll be good days and there’ll be days when you just want to pack it all in and say “F&#* It!”

Like marriage & school, the bad days provide the room for growth. Mistakes show us where we need to learn. Improving your health also requires compassion, kindness and forgiveness as much as any relationship or endeavour.

The commitment keeps you tethered to the path.

blossom path

Back to the charged energy of Spring.

In the spirit of renewal, I’m ready to bolster the walls in my own life by openly stating:

I am committed to stepping up my own self-care with a deep homeopathic detox.

I have a feeling it’ll be a challenge on many levels, but the delicious promise of what it offers on the other side stands taller in my mind’s eye than a few weeks of discomfort.

Your turn! WHAT ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT TO THIS SEASON?
When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.

* from Locksley Hall by Alfred Tennyson