Empower, Enlighten, Equilibrate

Fear is not to be Feared

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It’s normal to have worries and fears. Why is this a part of our life? I have observed within myself and in the numerous histories that I have taken over the years of how much fear is a part of people’s lives. Some handle their fears better than others, while others have a difficult time navigating through some hefty fearful challenges. What I have learned is that fears are sometimes necessary for us to test our mettle and see what we are willing to do and face those fears or challenges that we feel may at the time feel too difficult to look at. We many times get caught up in how one should act instead of trusting what we feel inside and listen to our inner guidance.

One way to live an authentic life is to accept oneself for who they are, and embrace both their upsides and downsides equally. The need to be accepted by others/peers oftentimes may take precedence and override what we truly feel and how we act. Instead of doing what we really want to do and express ourselves authentically we hold ourselves back. Some people have no problem expressing their true nature, while many have a fear of not being accepted or loved, which makes one alter their behavior and hide behind facades to avoid ridicule or even worse, rejection.

Fear is not real, but symptomatically expresses in our bodies in different ways. A few common examples are shortness of breath or holding of breath, rapid heart beat/pulse rate, sweaty palms, nausea, and an unsettled feeling in the pit of one’s stomach. It is not about avoiding our fears, or even controlling our fears, but to have the courage to take a look at all the facts to substantiate whether or not we should fear a person, situation, or life circumstance. FEAR can stand for the acronym, False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words, all fear is, is a fabrication of the mind that deems a particular action will cause more pain or suffering. The moment we recognize that a certain situation that we fear will not cause any pain, is when the fear evaporates like a bad dream into the ethers.

Take this time to take a look at what you are afraid of. It may be the fear of heights, flying in an airplane, spiders, and an assortment of other things. Learn to embrace your fear and your shortcomings; take stock of where you are capable and start building up your self-confidence. Only you have the power and ability to get over any fears in your life. Bolstering your confidence in handling your fear, will get you to take action, and instead of being a victim, you can choose to empower yourself. This is where the trust in your body’s symptoms and knowing what to do to deal with certain health ailments can serve as your support in dealing with fears. The power that comes with knowledge and wisdom of how your body deals with stress and fears can go a long way towards solving health crises and eventually the resolution of your fears. Take this moment to decide if you want to deal with your fear, or if you don’t want to deal with the fear, you can always do it at a different time. The choice is always yours to make.

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Old Patterns and Habits

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As one begins to develop a stronger mind-body connection, the next step, besides discovering how one feels and connects with their body, is to become aware of one’s behavior patterns.  Recently I have had to face a lot of my old patterns in how I operate and experience my life.  We all have our own perspectives of how we experience certain instances that will always be seen through our own unique filters.  No two people will ever see or experience a particular event the same.  Everyone’s experience is their own; due to influences of the past.  So how can we stay in the present moment and not fall back into old behavior patterns?

The first step is to become aware and recognize when you are falling back into old patterns of reacting and thoughts.  Sometimes we need others to help us to see when we become unsure and begin reacting to situations.  We all have created different strategies to deal with uncomfortable situations, people, and even ourselves.  I have discovered that one of my old patterns is to avoid uncomfortable situations.  I tend to be a people-pleaser, and will do whatever it takes to make sure everyone around me is happy in my perception.  I will even sacrifice my own happiness to insure that others, especially loved ones, are happy.  What I have come to discover is that you cannot please everyone, even if your intentions are good.  It’s the battle between what I feel is right, and wanting others to be happy in spite of my own happiness.

Before I’ve felt that if I chose my happiness over another, I was being selfish.  Listening to many personal histories over the years, I have discovered that I am not alone in feeling this way.  Many have shared that when they choose themselves first, they feel selfish and guilty about it.  I have come to the realization that until we choose ourselves first, then we can never fully love or give to another.  Loving and putting one’s “self” first, is necessary to truly love others.  Even in the Bible, Mark 12:31 states, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  By simply loving yourself, you are able to love others.  So begin immediately and choose to love yourself first, which will then allow you to give, serve, and love others.

We develop certain habits or act a certain way, because it serves us.  Good habits such as brushing our teeth, helps us to prevent dental decay and cavities.  But why do we also develop such things as bad habits?  Such considered bad habits are procrastinating, stretching the truth, avoiding confrontations, making excuses, etc.  We all have, from time to time, done those things, but why are some people more prone to acting this way?  Until one can be brutally honest with themselves, and take a look at how a particular behavior is benefiting them, they will keep reenacting the same behavior until they choose that it no longer serves them in a positive way.  Once a person knows their truth, sees how they want to experience their life, and accepts themselves fully and unconditionally, there is an alchemical moment when they can transform a bad habit into a different form.

However, know that it takes time, patience, dedication, and determination to address and eventually change old patterns or habits.  Reason being is that all behaviors were created by you to deal with certain situations in your life.  Change takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.  Learn to be more gentle with yourself, because there are going to be moments when you will go back into your patterns and repeat behaviors.  When you do it’s because you didn’t stay consciously present and allowed yourself to enter autopilot mode, not making a conscious choice with your actions.  Take this moment to choose to be present and take tiny steps towards freeing yourself from those old, crusty habits.

If you can relate, or have a story to share, please comment below.  There is a benefit in expressing and exchanging our stories.  Let’s hear it!

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I have learned through my life experiences and via self-examination, that all the things I have done in my life were based on conditioned behavioral patterns that eventually became unconscious.  So what is the importance of establishing a mind-body connection?

From the time that we are born we instinctively do it.  The true gift of being a child is to have this strong, undeniable connection to what feels right and what feels wrong in our bodies.  Whenever we ate something that didn’t taste good, we instantly spit it out and said, “bleeeech!”  Other times when we were told something that we didn’t agree with, we would show our disagreement in the form of a tantrum or whining.  We didn’t censor this action until we got those dirty looks from our parents and saw their disapproval to how we were mis-“behaving.”  This led us to conforming to a higher authority, which our parents were first, followed by our teachers at school, peers that we looked up to in high school, college professors, and then our bosses when we entered the “working” sector.  Each step of the way, we found out what was accepted and what we could and couldn’t do.  At times conforming was important to keep the peace, and over time we began to accept our actions as the right thing to do.  Sometimes we overrode what went against our true nature, only to discover that we created some ailment or health issue to compensate for this compromise.

However, there were instances and life circumstances when we were told something to do that we didn’t fully agree with.  Sometimes we were coaxed or even strong-armed into doing something that didn’t sit well with us.  We definitely felt something deep within our being and “body” that shouted out a definite “NO!”  How many times did we not listen to this “NO”, and proceeded to do what we were told in order to please another or to be part of a group?  We are constantly challenged throughout life and we make choices usually based upon what we deem as appropriate and acceptable.  How many times have social constructs or what society deems as right prevented you from fully expressing yourself and your inner light?

When we are born, we inhabit this physical vessel, which we call the body.  It is through this physical body that we experience the world.  We have our tactile senses, which are composed of touch receptors on our skin allowing us to feel changes in temperature, textures of objects, and to connect with humans and other living organisms.  We have our sight, which allows us to view the world, but quickly our vision can be altered by what we perceive, tweaking what is real and what is not.  We have our sense of taste in conjunction with our sense of smell, which allows us to differentiate between different flavors of food that we eat.  Last but not least, our ability to hear, which gives us the ability to take in our external environment and determine what is safe and what is not.  Many of us take our physical bodies for granted and compounded by the way the media portrays the concept “mind over matter”, no wonder we have entered into this conundrum and have a difficulty dealing with health crises.  Simply, we forgot how to communicate with our own bodies and listen to all its subtle hints.

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The most important bond, the one between the mind and body, has taken the backseat to the mind being king and the body delegated to being a servant of the mind.  This imbalance has created a distortion in how we perceive our lives and hence we lost the one thing that can help us establish ease and peace within our psyche; a balanced, physical body.  It has been stated by eastern philosophers and healers that an “unsettled mind leads to an unsettled body.” Once the mind is at ease, the body too will be at ease.  Such a simple concept, and yet how true and prophetic is this statement?

Start now to see if you feel any tension in your body.  Do you have tension in your neck and if so which side? Or perhaps the tension you feel is in your jaw, or in your mid-back, maybe even your low-back, or even pelvis?  Also make a mental note of what parts of your body feels at ease and relaxed.  Just by doing this simple exercise will get you to start connecting with your mind-body and you may just become aware that an uncomfortable conversation that needs to take place is creating some tension or even pain in the left side of your neck.  This is the first step towards creating your “own” mind-body connection, which is the acknowledgment of some situation or person that is perhaps creating some tension in a particular part of your body or if more intense an undesirable health crisis.

The Impacts of Food

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In this day and age, there is so much discussion about the foods we eat, making sure we have enough nutrition, or the ramifications of eating genetically modified organism (GMO) foods.  Nutrition is definitely important to ensure that we have the right amount of minerals, proteins, sugars, and fibers that our bodies can use.  We are told to have a balanced diet, get adequate amounts of sleep, get enough exercise, and maintain a positive mindset, which will help to ensure a healthy and wellness lifestyle.  If that was the case, why do we still find it difficult to be healthy?

I am not negating the importance of what we put into our bodies, but what also is vitally important is our mental and emotional state of being at the time we are preparing our nutritious foods or when we are eating.  Just think about this for a minute, what if you had healthy, organic, local grown produce but at the time you were preparing the food, you were angry with someone or some life circumstance?  Have you had comments from family members or friends criticizing how your food tastes bland or too salty, or even bitter perhaps?  Reflect and see what was going on at the time you were preparing the meal; were you uninspired or irritated?  Or has the opposite been true, parents or siblings even children expressing how amazing the dinner was and how good they felt after they ate?

Another case in point, have you ever been to your favorite restaurant and on one occasion felt the food was flat or didn’t have the usual “wow” factor?  Often we attribute the mishap to the chef having an “off” night, or that the substitute chef was responsible for the disappointing entree.  Could it possibly be a combination of the chef not being in a happy mood or possibly some form of unrest among the staff and servers as well?  I am asking these questions to spark awareness about how important our state of mind and emotions dictate our appetite and tastes.

This concept is known as the mind-body connection and has been researched for over forty years, linking the mind with physical expressions in the body.  Right now if I mention sucking on a lemon, how many of your lips started to pucker and mouth begin to water?  It’s truly amazing how a picture, a smell, and even a thought can create a physical response of the body. We can either choose to work with our minds and control our mental thoughts and emotions, or we can learn to connect with our bodies and gain another way to be more present in our lives.  The time is now to start connecting with your body if you haven’t done so.  The more in tune you are with your body and its subtle signals, the more you don’t have to be surprised by some health crisis or major health ailment to make you mindful of how the stressors in your life are impacting your physical body and overall well-being.

I want to share a few easy-to-do things that you can do to start connecting your mind with the body, utilizing food consumption as the method.  The next time you sit down for a meal, take this opportunity to observe how you eat.  Do you take little or big bites?  Do you wolf down your food, or do you allow yourself time to savor the flavor and enjoy the food in your mouth?  If you eat fast, do you find yourself rushing through life and many times feel overwhelmed by all the things that you need to get done?  If you are a slow eater, do you find that you tend to take time before coming to decisions, and taking action?  Neither way is right or wrong, but it is a simple expression of how you operate in the world.  Observing your eating habits will slowly illustrate how you experience and deal with life.

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Another example is to look at your cravings for comfort foods.  Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed or worried about something, you tend to reach for chocolate, sweets, or salty chips?  How many times have you started to eat a bag of chips, telling yourself I will just eat a few chips and then 10 minutes later the whole bag is empty?  Then how often do you proceed to mentally flog yourself for eating all the chips and now have to exercise for two hours to offset what you put into your body?

My suggestion is to enjoy your comfort foods when you crave them.  Eventually, the more you give yourself permission to eat these foods, the more you will find that after you start eating your comfort food, you’ll stop sooner.  The only reason you crave comfort foods is an attempt to fill a void or an emotion that can be linked to anxiety, fear, sadness, or lack of love.  When you address this void or charged emotion, is when you will be free of the cravings for comfort foods.

Learning to listen to your body and establishing a clearer communication with your mind-body takes time.  This strategy does not happen over night, but if you stay mindful and work towards this goal, it will serve you and help you navigate through life’s experiences in the long run.

If you can relate, or have a story to share, please comment below.  There is a benefit in expressing and exchanging our stories.  Let’s hear it!

Sleeping Peacefully

images There has been a lot of research done on the sleep problems that have been plaguing many people in this country.   Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to significantly affect one’s health, performance, safety, and financial well-being. A lack of sleep, especially the quality of sleep, can lead to many things such as increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer. It also affects one’s immune system, leading to increased incidences of colds and illnesses. Obesity has been linked to a lack of sleep, and when one diets while physically tired, it’s been shown that your body is burning off muscle, not the fat you want to lose.

Lack of sleep alters hormone levels associated with appetite, and affects one’s mental and emotional health. Learning and memory consolidation research shows that a good night’s sleep after learning something will help you better retain the information. Research also showed that driving while exhausted is nearly as dangerous as driving drunk.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities.

Why is it so hard for us to get restful sleep? Have you noticed that as the years go by, even though you may get seven or eight hours of sleep, you still wake up exhausted? There are a variety of factors that affect our ability to get a restful night’s sleep, from light emitted from our electrical hand-held devices, to worries about work projects or deadlines. The underlying cause is stress.   Stress impacts us more than we realize and whenever there is anything unresolved mentally or emotionally, it prevents our parasympathetic nervous system from activating, which is responsible for cellular and body repair. Worries about a family member or disagreements among siblings, a parent, or a significant other impact us negatively as well.

Our mind, expectations of how life ought to be, and our need to make sure that everything will be alright creates a low grade disturbance that keeps us in sympathetic mode, which is the fight or flight response. Our bodies stay activated and remain on yellow alert even though our eyes are closed. Can you relate to times in your life, where it was hard to get relaxed and drift off to sleep, because your mind was so active? Have you ever found yourself unsettled and restless, tossing and turning in bed because of having to make a decision or deal with an uncomfortable issue? Many times we will either put all of our energies into work, or exercise excessively, to the point of exhaustion, in order for us to crash and go to sleep.

Being able to sleep peacefully starts from dealing with our daily stresses and addressing any past or current issues that bother us. Learn to acknowledge this stress and accept that by dealing with these stresses we can establish a new way to experience our lives. Make it a point to resolve any matter that creates a mental or emotional disturbance inside. The more harmonious our minds and feelings are, the more peace and ease we experience in our bodies. A settled mind will lead to a settled body.

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One simple exercise that can help prepare you for sleep is to place your hands on a part of your body that feels comfortable. Take eight to ten breaths into your hands staying focused on how your breath feels coming into your body and exiting your body.   Be really present in the moment and with your body, and slowly but surely you will find yourself starting to be more at ease and drifting off to sleep. The power of being present with your body and in the moment insures that your mind does not get trapped in the past or projecting into the future. Hence, by staying in the “Now”, present moment is one of the secrets that help you to achieve peaceful and restful sleep.

Weighing Issues

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What does being overweight represent? Or one’s inability to keep the perfect waistline or figure? For many it has become an obsession to stay in shape, but obesity is on the rise, and many things are to blame, from bad diets, fast foods, cravings, lack of self-control, and many other reasons. What are your reasons?

We can blame the frantic pace of life and not enough time to prepare a proper meal, but beyond all that, excess weight serves as a perfect strategy for a person to protect oneself. Biologically our bodies were designed to store any extra food as fat, in order for our bodies to have a reserve when we could not find food to eat. Now many of us live in a society where food is abundant and there is not a lack of food, but rather excess. So why do most diets fail, and even exercising all the time, not keep the weight off?

This is where each individual’s body has different reasons for holding onto excess weight. One reason is weight insulates us from any uncomfortable energies, emotions, or situations that we have to face on a day-to-day basis. It could be an uncomfortable work situation, a difficult relationship or family relations, and just being unhappy with our life’s circumstances. What I have seen over the past 15 years is that most people who tend to hold their weight are usually very sensitive and overly caring, many to their own detriment. Hence they use the weight as a way to protect and insulate themselves from all the emotional experiences they have encountered.

Many will cite that they lack self-control, give into the cravings, and eat their comfort foods. How many times have we been stressed and started to eat a bag of chips and in 10 minutes, voila, the bag is empty? Or the chips could be in the form of chocolates as most chocoholics can attest to. Many times we use comfort foods as a way to satisfy a part of ourselves that we feel is empty, but after we consume our comfort foods, why do we end up beating ourselves more than celebrating? I have discovered if you crave your comfort foods, to enjoy it as much as possible, and do your best to refrain from mentally berating yourself for having no control. By not judging your desire to eat comfort foods, you free yourself from guilt and can keep your mental state more balanced. One day, after starting to eat your comfort foods, you will find that is not what you really wanted and will stop.

Here’s where the example of Constance comes to mind. Constance discovered upon many years of trying different diets and cleanses, that the damn weight never stayed off and would exponentially compound over time. She viewed herself as being lazy, having an inferiority complex, and lacking self-discipline. However, as we worked together, Constance learned to trust herself and as she began to gain greater clarity of her life and what she truly “wanted,” one day she had an epiphany. It began when her husband was constantly calling her names and putting her down for being fat. Constance learned to value herself, and understood what her values were.  When her husband asked point blank, “How do you see yourself?” Constance felt something shift inside her being and stated, “I am the most beautiful woman and have the biggest heart of anyone I know.  I don’t deserve to get all this s#%t from you. I cannot change what you think of me and if you cannot see that, then you don’t know me, and I want to know why we are together.”
Constance shared further that self-acceptance is key when she looks in the mirror now. She has learned to know that inside, it’s still her. It’s up to her husband to see that. Constance had lost 35 pounds a long time ago, due to the urgings of her husband after the birth of their second child. Upon which other people, especially men began to notice her. Constance felt physically beautiful at the time and was flattered by all the extra attention. But the moment she did, her husband became extremely jealous and possessive. Since family and security was highest on Constance’s values, there was no way she would entertain any of the male suitors. However, once she began to put back on the weight, people stopped paying attention and her husband calmed down. Realizing this, Constance saw that keeping the weight wasn’t due to her being insecure, it was a strategy to keep her marriage, family, and security intact. Now Constance knows it is her choice to change this strategy if she wants and doesn’t need the weight to keep her husband or family intact.

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By reflecting and taking a look at how your extra weight is currently serving you, like Constance, you can discover the reason your body has created this strategy of keeping the extra curves. Begin by asking yourself,“ How do my love handles benefit me?” Is it the story I tell others, or more importantly, what do I get from being on the “heavy” side? Once you discover your answer, that’s the first step towards you shifting your weight from the plus to a more balanced state of being.

Gift of Spirit Workshop

Gift of Spirit Workshop

May 25th (12-5pm)

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