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shining soul fitness

shine from the inside out

Month

March 2016

So, that happened.

I really like to pretend that I am in control.  I might even be what my husband some people call a ‘control freak’.  But, from time to time, the Universe likes to remind me that NO ONE is in control, and that I am no exception.

The best laid plans can be blown to bits in a heartbeat.  When something seems like a “sure thing”, it can fall apart.  The contract can be signed and still fall through.  We can’t control other people, the weather, traffic, any of it, really.  And it seems that I am in need of a lesson lately, because the message keeps coming through loud and clear.

All I can control is myself and how I react to a world that I have zero control over.  One of the patients that I have worked with lately has been talking about and working on trying to be less reactive when things do not go his way.  His idea has been to take a breath and to say “well, that happened” in order to recognize that he has no control over anything outside of himself and to not get caught up in irrational emotion about it.  I love it when the patients teach me stuff.  (which happens a lot)

So, as of late, I have been trying to first take a breath and think, “so, that happened” and then to respond rather than react.  I have also been trying to “see a different way” and to get out of the rut of habitual reactions.  Neither of these is easy, but it’s what I am working on and I am a work in progress.

In honor of letting go of old patterns that no longer serve us, I would love to share my most favorite poem of all time with you.  I return to it often.  (Let me preface the poem by telling you that there is some debate about who actually wrote it.  Some say that Ernest Holmes wrote it, but from what I can tell Rev. Safire Rose is the author.  Odd, but alas, I have no control over that…)

She Let Go
She let go.
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go…
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
leaves

I like to believe that things happen for a reason and when my plans are shattered, it is only a turn in the road that will lead to better things.  Maybe this is just something I tell myself to feel better, but it works, so I am good with that.  To quote an amazing song called ‘Black as the Night’ by Medicine for the People- “I believe in the good things coming”.  This is my anthem in times of twists and turns on the path.

Let’s try our best to see the turns in our road as leading to better things and as opportunities for growth.  I often tell my patients that growth begins at the edge of your comfort zone.  Time to walk to the talk for a bit.

Let’s walk together.

Talk again soon,
k
Check out an acoustic version of Black as the Night here (but be warned there are 3 curse words in the song): https://youtu.be/Qt7DFLovvD8

Why can’t we be friends?

When we refer to addiction, we often think of drugs and/or alcohol, but when I talk about addiction at work with my patients and when I lead a YogaFit for Addiction and Recovery training, we talk about addictive behaviors in a much broader scope.

In his book Recovery 2.0, Tommy Rosen defines addiction as “Any behavior that you continue to engage in despite the negative consequences that the behavior leaves in its wake.”  Maybe it isn’t so much of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ scenario…

The “Big 6” addictions are drugs, alcohol, food, people, money, and technology.  In this way of thinking, we all most likely have an addiction or know someone who does.  Drugs, alcohol, and food we typically understand right away- they change the brain’s chemistry upon ingestion.  People can be an addiction in the form of sex addiction or co-dependence.  Money addiction can display itself as a gambling addiction, shopaholic behaviors, or the society supported and ever-praised ‘workaholic’.  Finally, I am seeing more and more addiction to technology in the forms of video games, smart phones, tablets, etc. that take away from productivity, connection, and engagement in life.

And most of the time, with these addictions comes compulsion, and with some, obsession.

A compulsion is an irresistible urge and presents as a ritual- an urgent need to relieve inner turmoil.  It can look like compulsive cleaning, hand washing, counting, checking and rechecking something, or any number of behaviors believed to bring relief.  Compulsions are continued even when they have negative consequences such as raw, chapped, or bleeding hands due to excessive hand washing.  An obsession is an uncontrollable idea, image, or thought that you can’t get out of your head- it takes over all of your thinking.  Many times, this takes the form of worry and is a form of loss of control.

Compulsions and obsessions can also be experienced without addictive behaviors, but they in themselves become relied upon for relief and can provide some comfort of some sort.  So, they feel needed.

According to Rosen, if we are not entangled in one of the Big 6 Addictions, we most likely are suffering from at least one of the 4 Aggravations: negative thinking, self-doubt, procrastination, and resentment.  These thinking patterns become habitual and they keep us stuck and unhappy.  These 4 Aggravations also many times can lead to lapse or relapse of an addiction as well.

In my experience, we have ALL had to deal with the 4 aggravations and for some, they become obsessive thinking patterns and lead us to develop compulsive behaviors to alleviate the turmoil they stir up.

So, how do we change all of this?  There are many modes of help- of course, counseling and yoga are two that I would recommend.  But, if nothing else, we must start with some self-compassion.  Many times, we get stuck in patterns of beating ourselves up mentally and emotionally and we, for some reason, think that this will motivate us into changing our behaviors.  But usually, it just makes us feel bad about ourselves, which is uncomfortable, and so to feel better, we turn to our compulsions and addictions.

We have to practice acceptance in every moment for what is happening and where we are.  When we resist, we only make things worse. (Refer back to the previous post “Stop Fighting Already”)  Typically when a friend is experiencing a challenge in life, we are there for them and we express things like “yes, this is really hard” to acknowledge what they are going through and “I am here if you need me” to offer support.  But, for ourselves, we skip over this step.  We experience a challenge and instead of being our own friend and recognizing that it is hard and it is OK to feel what we feel, we skip right from acknowledging that things are challenging to “how do I fix this”.  We judge ourselves for not being able to handle things on our own or ‘perfectly’, we beat ourselves up for needing help or for not knowing what to do, and we make ourselves feel worse for going through a challenging period in our lives even though everyone experiences challenging periods in their lives.

Pain Kristin Neff

 

Beating ourselves up is not making us stronger or smarter or better.  It is making us miserable.  And then, because we feel miserable, we turn to the very patterns and behaviors that we hope will make us feel better- and they DO, but only temporarily- and then this cycle continues.

So, try being your own friend.  Acknowledge that what you are experiencing is hard or uncomfortable or confusing.  Ask for help; talk to a friend- connection is hugely healing.  Journal.  Breathe. DO YOGA!  Try to see that feeling the good and the bad is part of authentically living this life rather than just numbing out and coasting through.  Remember that you are not the only one who has felt this way and that unless you ask for support, no one knows you need it.  And remind yourself that you are making it.  Even if it is minute by minute by minute, you are making it and you have everything you need right now in this moment to make it.

Thanks for stopping by and checking in.  As Dr. Gabor Mate’ says, “If you can feel it, you can heal it.”

We are in this together.

Talk soon,

k

 

Shake it off

Frequently when we think about trauma, we think about it in reference to other people.  But let me tell you that we ALL have trauma in our lives.  “Trauma is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.” – Peter Levine

So, what is trauma?  Trauma is defined as a “deeply distressing or emotionally disturbing experience”.  Basically, it is a shock to your system.  Everyone responds to events differently, so if a group of people all experience the same event, some may be traumatized by it while others will not.  Multiple things can contribute to your chances of being traumatized, but according to Peter Levine, the most important factors are: 1. you experience a great deal of fear and 2. you are immobilized – meaning you experience the inability to act or the perception that you cannot take action in the moment which would allow the emotions and stress to move through you rather than becoming “stuck”.

We must remember that unexpressed emotions will store in our bodies.  The things that we do not say, the feelings that we do not allow ourselves to feel, and the stress that we just “push down” will store and affect us later.  “Most people”, Levine notes, “think of trauma as a ‘mental’ problem, even as a ‘brain disorder’.  However, trauma is something that also happens in the body.”  His approach is referred to as a “bottom-up” approach in that we address the needs of the body and then do the talk therapy to process.

What we have stored in our bodies will express itself at some time in some way.  (Refer back to previous post titled “Right In The Feels”)  It could manifest as physical pain, as disease, as illness- physical, mental, emotional.  You can experience it now and get it over with or you can experience it later and many times, when we experience it later, it is more severe and longer lasting.  Either way, it is not likely to be the most comfortable experience, but it is much healthier to allow the body to do what it wants to do naturally and to allow ourselves to feel what we feel when we feel it.

How many animals in the wild have you met who have PTSD?  I would venture to guess none because when something traumatic happens to an animal- and it will as the food chain exists in nature- the animal responds to the frightening event by allowing the body to shake and release the fear and stress without caring what the other animals think of them.  They literally shake it off (discharging the trauma) and move forward.  For some reason, humans seem to think they know better than nature and we stop the body from shaking, we repress what we feel, and we store that stress in the body only to have it pop back up at some later time.  And then we wonder what is “wrong” with us.

self healing

Outside of traumatic events, we are living in a society that encourages us to live in stress response and to be disconnected from ourselves and from others.  This too takes a toll on the nervous system/mind and the body and trains us into a zombie-like state of functioning.

If you have experienced a traumatic event, I, of course, encourage you to seek out a therapist and to do some talk therapy around what you have experienced.  But, I also encourage you to take it one step further.  Tune in to what you are feeling in your body as well.  Do your best to be “the witness”, that is to say, to observe without attempting to change or judge.  We become fearful when the body responds in a way that we did not command it to respond and we resist.  But, nature knows what it is doing way better than we do.  It has survived for millions of years.

Find a trained professional to help you in your journey.  Have some body work done in the form of massage or chiropractic work or physical therapy if needed.  Go to a trauma sensitive yoga class, look up unwinding on YouTube, go to a myofascial release therapist, and let your body shake.  Whatever you do, LISTEN to your body and TRUST that it knows what it needs to do.

When the energy that is stored in the body is accessed and released, it can transform from trauma to healing.

Fortunately, the same immense energies
that create the symptoms of trauma,
when properly engaged and mobilized,
can transform the trauma and propel us
into new heights of healing, mastery,
and wisdom.

Peter A. Levine, PhD

It is amazing to witness the transformation that can happen in a yoga class where people are trusting their bodies, feeling safe, and allowing themselves to shake and release tension, stress, and trauma for the first time.  Become friends with your body and your body will become friends with you.

I am passionate about the power behind mind-body interventions and I am making it my life’s work to bring yoga and therapy together.  I hope you take the time and have the opportunity to experience the powerful mind-body connection and the amazing ways that our bodies work to heal themselves.

It may feel uncomfortable or scary at first, but you can do it.  You have to trust and try something different to get a different result.

And don’t worry, I will be shaking right next to you, so we can do it together.

Talk soon,

k

Check out Peter Levine’s book In An Unspoken Voicehttp://www.amazon.com/Unspoken-Voice-Releases-Restores-Goodness/dp/1556439431/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458307097&sr=8-1&keywords=peter+levine

 

 

 

 

This little light of mine…

To live a fulfilling life, we must make time to do the things that light us up, that make us feel alive, that help us to grow our own happiness.  In my life, I call these things “Fireflies“.  These are the things- big or small- that grow the glow from within.  These are the things that make us feel truly alive.

Many times, in dealing with patients in the mental health world, I have found that people lose touch with what they love and what they can do to feel good.  We get so caught up in the trained thinking patterns of lack and not being “good enough’ that we stop taking time for ourselves.  I see people who focus only on making others happy, people concerned only with achieving that next goal in order to be happy, and people who just give up on happiness and slog through their life like it is something they must merely endure.

Hear me when I say this:

You were not born to endure your life.  You were not born to numbly coast, to suffer every day, or to just “get through”.

But, this is something that, when we get caught up in the day to day stress of life, we often forget.  We say, “One of these days I will…” or “Someday, I am going to…”, putting off our happiness until that far off, magical day.

But, what if someday turned out to be today?  What if you took 10 minutes today to do something for yourself?  How could you change your day, your relationships, your ability to handle stress, your perspective if you made it a habit to do things that you enjoy?  I promise that you can make the time in your schedule to do something for yourself.  Start small- a few minutes- to begin to kindle that fire within.  One firefly is small- maybe it is just a moment of focusing on something you love- and then the fireflies start to multiply as we begin to see how healthy it is for us to tap into our passions.  We feel more alive and begin to spend more time on what we love and our light begins to grow.

Marianne Williamson talks about “plugging in” and being a lamp- allowing our light to shine forth to others to light their way.  She says that as we shine our light out into the world, we give others permission to shine their lights as well.

Have you ever seen the magical beauty of a field alight with fireflies?  Take a moment to imagine how our world would be different if everyone was tapped in to passion and love and light.

come alive

You want to do something to help others?  Then truly live.  Become alive.  Shine your light.  Help yourself and you will be helping those around you.  Only you can give yourself the opportunity to turn on that light and shine from the inside out.  Only you can do these things routinely so that they become a part of your life.  Only you can make changes that will grow your good.   Only you can shine your unique light.  The thought of looking back at the end of my life with regret of the things I did not do scares me more than the thought of how others will react when I take the time and effort to tap in to my fireflies.

You have unique qualities and contributions to the world that no one else has or can make. Tapping in to those things that light you up will grow the good in you and in the world.

So, how do you plug in?  What are you passionate about?  What lights you up?

I am taking some time today to shine my light.  I hope you will too.

Talk again soon,

k

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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