A marvelous occurrence: 5 + inches of rain has fallen within the past 72 hours. It’s not so much the ferocious storm that has made this time special, as it is the calm and slow pace that I gave myself permission to create and enjoy in the midst of the storm.
Friday’s plans for a snowshoe outing were canceled due to weather and suddenly, on Thursday night I realized that I had a weekday looming–without commitments!
Admittedly, my mind went to all the work-related items I could accomplish! Eight hours of unexpected and suddenly available time can create the space for many To Do tasks to be checked off the list. I thought about it for just a moment when my next thought was NO! Just hang out. Take advantage of the day and of the storm and stay warm, dry, and quiet–right at home.
At that moment, I gave myself permission to just be.
For the past 72 hours, I have not gone out of the house, except to take Grace for a walk. Twice a day for the past three days, I have donned my rain-gear and enjoyed a 1/2 hour of bliss–walking through the storm, cozy and warm in winter clothes, experiencing the fierce wind and rain, senses stimulated by the sights, sounds, and smells of the storm, and I’d return home with a joyful heart and a smiling dog.
I’ve sat quietly and have felt grateful for that quiet. I have baked dozens of mini-loaves of cranberry and coconut-pumpkin bread to be shared next week as holiday love. I have savored the aromas wafting from my kitchen. I have watched the flames in the woodstove. I have made soup and roasted squash. I have had fun on FaceBook and yes, I have even answered a few emails. I have watched the great trees bend and sway in the powerful winds. I have enjoyed seeing the birds braving the elements to stay well-fed from the feeders. I have slowed down.
I gave myself permission to be calm within the storm.
In the midst of a busy day, intent on my To Do list, I sat down to create a guided imagery .mp3 for a client. Admittedly–and ironically–I was a bit frazzled as I settled in for the task at hand. With my own eyes closed, I invited her to do the same…and proceeded to drop in to a restorative and calming place of quiet relaxation.
Through guided imagery, brain chemistry is changed, resulting in our becoming more receptive to the positive images that are evoked in the guiding. When our brains are consistently invited to imagine positive situations such as calm, confidence, success, peacefulness, joy, and the myriad of happy emotions available to us, it becomes familiar with positivity. The path of least resistance shifts to healthful, forward-moving thoughts, actions, and responses while letting go of barriers such as anxiety, doubt, and resistance. Taking just a few moments each day to sit with an intention to quiet our busy brain becomes an amazing opportunity to manifest our best selves!
Twelve minutes later, I was gently bringing my client, via the recording, to express self-gratitude for her willingness to gift herself the time to practice a quieting session, then to gently open her eyes, look around the room, and move with graciousness through her day. And that is just what I did…
Nevada County community members: Take Note! Patt Lind-Kyle will be facilitating a 4-part workshop, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain, beginning in February. Her exciting and inspiring work gives us insight into the science of neuroplasticity and how we can literally change our brain to change our lives. I eagerly registered for the workshop; the price is right, and the companion book and audio relaxation sessions are invaluable, whether you attend the workshop or not. Not only will my optimal life-management consulting benefit, but on a personal level, I will expand and learn as I create new neural pathways in my brain! Can’t wait! Check it out: http://www.healrewireyourbrain.com
60 seconds is all it takes…
It is well accepted that in our society, we are immersed in a fast paced way of life. Much is known about the potential negative consequences of unrelieved stress on both our physical and emotional health. While there may be some opportunity to alleviate your own personal stress triggers to some extent, two more realistic and immediate choices are available to you. One is to modify the manner with which you respond to a stress trigger, and the other is to practice the elicitation of a relaxation response on a regular basis.
Both of these choices are appealing, because both are attainable, pleasant, and very beneficial. Read the rest of this entry »
Savor the moment to enhance your well-being.
Life is hectic! Our days are filled with commitments, family, obligations, activities (hopefully exercise fits in here), shopping and cooking, reading, driving to and fro…it’s a busy day. Many of us live in a “hurry up and get it done” mode—either multi-tasking two or three activities at the same time, or while in the midst of completing one task, already thinking about what is next on the list to do.
When did we buy in to this mode of existence—getting as much done in one day as humanly possible? Don’t get me wrong; efficiency and effectiveness are important to our personal and business success, but what is the price we pay for life in the fast lane? And one thing is certain, this ramped up performance expectation that has become the norm in our society does carry a price.
I believe that in our rush towards completion, the richness of each experience becomes diluted, leading to the loss of a certain amount of depth and sensory awareness. A superficiality is attached to the event, minimizing its’ value and contribution to our quality of life. Regardless of how ordinary or extraordinary the task may be, our attachment to the experience is minimized, and to counterbalance, it is mindfulness that allows us to fully engage in the depth and detail of the event or task, however mundane it may seem to be. Read the rest of this entry »
For most of us, it’s both.
Women today do it all…contribute to the family finances, in some cases as the sole provider; nurture their children, partners, and extended family members; take care the house, which may include shopping, preparing meals, cleaning, laundry, or minor repairs; help with homework; talk with teachers; soothe hurt feelings and broken hearts; walk the dog; empty the cat litter box; write out the bills (all the while balancing the family budget); and mow the lawn in summer. While there may be a family effort exerted for these daily living tasks, much of the coordination, if not the effort itself, is left to the woman of the household.
Given all the energy women devote to household/family needs, how is it that we find time for success within our work life? Because we must. Whether we go to work full time or part time, at an executive or laborer level, love our work or just tolerate it, women give as much of themselves to their job as they do to their family and home.
That brings me to my point: What’s left over? Where is the energy or the time for our pleasures, our personal pursuits, or our self-nurturing? Yes, we derive pleasure from our family and work successes and challenges, but is that enough? NO, it is not!
We need balance in our lives. This is easier said than done, yes, but it can be done. Finding balance is a practiced skill, meaning that it must be practiced to become familiar. As working women, our path has been obscured by our sense of obligation to others, so that we can no longer see the way to care for ourselves. This is evident on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
Balance incorporates three key components: relaxation or a quieting of the mind, eating foods that are health sustaining, and engaging in some type of physical activity. The quieting of the mind is the most important aspect of this balance. The relaxation achieved from this quieting can have a tremendous positive affect on your physical and emotional health. Give yourself permission to take just one, or three, or six minutes a day to sit and breathe is all I am suggesting. Read the rest of this entry »
Know your intention.
Adults experience an average of 50 stress responses a day! Whether you are awakened in the night by a wrong number phone call, can not find your car keys in the morning, or share in a difficult conversation with a colleague, each stress response has a negative impact on your physical and emotional health.
One way to diminish this negative impact is to take a moment or two out of your busy day for an intentional relaxation break, called Eliciting the Relaxation Response. Becoming relaxed is initiated by focusing on the rhythm of your breathing, which will allow your mind to become soothed and quieted. Not only will you enjoy an increase in focus and productivity, but perhaps more important is the decrease of the impact of the stress hormones. Just as a massage will relax tense muscles, a relaxation break will relax a tense mind.
There is a physiologic response that occurs when we become stimulated by an event, a thought, or physical discomfort. Commonly known as the fight or flight response, the changes that occur in the body are due to a hormonal cascade during which adrenaline and cortisol flood the body. The stress hormones will cause the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, increase blood glucose levels, and increase blood clotting. This protective mechanism is meant to prepare the body for the possibility of physical injury due to a “fight” and/or the need to take “flight”. If a vicious dog were charging you, these physical responses would assist you in getting out of the way in a hurry.
Hopefully, there is no charging dog. There is however the reality of daily events, such as family dynamics, job, traffic jams, and chores to name just a few, that can lead to a chronic sense of stress, worry, and hurry. The near constant presence of adrenaline and cortisol leads to an inflammatory response inside the body that may increase the risk to develop diabetes, coronary disease, cancer, and autoimmune disease. The increase in blood clotting can lead to a heart attack. Chronic stress interferes with good quality sleep, which in turn will lead to an increased sense of stress. Appetite can be affected negatively, with either less nutritious food choices being made, or too much food being consumed as a means to self soothe. Chronic stress can affect exercise habits, personal relationships, job performance, and could lead to behaviors that do not support optimal health.
Additional information will be provided in this and future newsletters to address relaxation techniques, healthy nutrition, and routine physical activity—optimal lifestyle choices that will lower your stress response, and your risk for disease.