shining soul fitness

shine from the inside out


July 2016

Just breathe…

Most of us live our life believing that the brain is in control and that it is the first to react in situations.  We are, according to John Prendergast “thought factories” and our attention is focused in our cognitive abilities.  In other words, we are ‘top-heavy’.  Well, I am here to tell you that the brain is actually the second thing to react in a situation and it follows the reaction of the body.

This is a huge piece of the trauma sensitive yoga that I teach and teach others to teach.  The body stores experiences and emotions basically in it’s own memory.  In any given situation, you may *think* that you are “ok”, or not even think about it at all, but then 30 minutes later, you are panicked and can’t figure out why.  Many times, the body is responding whether or not the brain is.

I have blogged many times about the disconnect many people suffer from between the head and the body and being able to listen to what the body is saying before it gets to a critical and function-impacting scream.

One of the easiest ways to change what is happening in the body is with the breath. By using specific breathing techniques, we can direct the reaction of the nervous system.  We can do any number of things like calm anxiety, focus the brain, warm ourselves from the inside out, lift our mood, and so on.

The first breathing technique I teach in counseling and in yoga is belly breathing. If you were to look at an infant lying on his or her back and sleeping, you would not see the chest rise and fall with the breath. You would see the belly inflating and deflating like a balloon. We are born naturally breathing deeply into our bellies. And then as we get older and learn the word ‘no’, we train ourselves out of belly breathing and into shallow, upper-chest, stress-linked breathing. As a woman, I have experienced the training to ‘suck’ my belly in so that it appears as flat as possible, as that is perceived as more beautiful and fit, but it is also changing how we breathe and how we feel.

For belly breathing, first, imagine that you can direct your breath anywhere you want it to go in your body. With your hands on your belly, imagine that you can actually breathe down into your belly as you inhale, taking a big, slow, deep breath, and inflating it like a balloon. (You must let go of the flat belly appearance here and embrace the Buddha belly concept.) Then, as you exhale, feel the belly deflating as the air leaves the body.  Repeat this as many times as you can, but at least 3-5 times.

Slow, deep breathing relaxes the body and releases endorphins.  Those are the natural pain killers in the body that create natural highs.  Who wouldn’t want more of that?!

The next 2 breathing techniques use counting in our heads as we breathe.  They are a great way to distract ourselves from bothersome thoughts and to give us something to focus on to calm the mind and body.

Equal ratio breathing brings balance into the breath, the body, and the mind.  And you can always combine it with belly breathing.  As you inhale, count to 4 in your mind and as you exhale, count to 4 in your mind.  You can find the count that works for you, but it is equal counts as you inhale and exhale.

Unequal ratio breathing is just a longer exhalation than inhalation.  Ok, lemme give you a little information on the nervous system here.  Every time we inhale, the Sympathetic Nervous System is engaged.  (Think stimulation or fight or flight) And, every time we exhale, the Parasympathetic Nervous System is engaged.  (Think rest and restore)  Soooo, if we can exhale longer than we inhale, we will be bringing on a calming response in the body.  So, you can inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 6 counts to calm things down a bit.

So, your homework is to try it!  Practice these breathing techniques every day and notice the changes in your body and mind. Be intentional and take your time with them. Get in touch with your body and make friends with it. You and your body will be glad you did. 

You know I will be breathing right along with you. 

Talk again soon.


I can’t fight this feeling anymore…

Some weeks, I experience this great inspiration and I know exactly what I want to share in my blog.  It flows effortlessly from my brain to my fingertips as I type it all out.

And then some weeks, I feel like there is no major inspiration, but I will have a few little ideas that I toss around.  I start writing and then I question myself.  I save that and start writing on something else and while this process is happening, there is this voice in my head telling me that that it has to be the most divine, uplifting information in order to be worthy of sharing.  This voice tells  me that I have to be able to save people with my writing for it to be worthy of hitting the Publish button.  And so, I wait; I start and stop; I hesitate; and then I beat myself up for not having the most inspiring blog for every person every single week.

According to Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art, what I am experiencing is called Resistance. It is a force of nature that will try to derail any creative efforts of any person.  He also states that it is fed solely by our own fear.  He states that any time there is a dream, there will automatically be Resistance.

The pressure to be live up to the perfectionistic expectations set by Resistance is maddening.  And it is truly impossible.  Tara Mohr talks about this commentary from the Inner Critic as coaching us into hiding.  I agree.  When my Inner Critic gets going, I feel like I am not creative enough or motivating enough or talented enough because I am not struck with the exact “right” thing to blog about this week, and then I hide.  I put the writing off.  I tell myself that I don’t have to blog every week, but then I feel like a failure for skipping a week, giving Resistance even more power.

One thing that we can work to let go of when we experience Resistance is the idea that “I can move forward when…”  For example, “I can move forward with this week’s blog when I receive the glorious awakening that will reach everyone in existence.”  Or “I can move forward with starting to teach that new class when I finish the training I am going through.”  Or “I can move forward with helping people when I finish the book I am reading and I know more.”  (I could go on for a while here…)

These are all excuses for not moving forward based on fear.  Our Inner Critic thrives on motivation by fear and it is very good at sounding like the voice of reason.  We believe that the Inner Critic or Resistance is our own voice, but Pressfield reassures us that thoughts of ‘I’m not good enough’ are not our voice, but purely Resistance trying to keep us from bettering ourselves.  One of the excuses that I am familiar with is that I don’t know enough yet.  I need to know more before I can help others, I need to know more before I can be a success, I need to know more before I can move forward with my business…and on it goes.  And it’s all a lie.  You may be familiar with this lie or others, but they are lies to keep us small and stuck right where we are.  It’s quite comfy here, after all, as we already know what to expect.  But, that’s not how we grow.

The Inner Critic gets really uncomfortable with the thought that we may possibly put ourselves out there, succeed, and then not need listen to the ongoing critical commentary any more.  When we get close to something important or creative, the Inner Critic ups the game:  “Oh. My. Gosh! You are planning to do WHAT?!  You are going to look soooooo stupid!  No one will ever talk to you again.  You may as well just give up now.  In fact, don’t even try.  That would be the safest thing to do…”  Basically, stay small.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?……And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson

Marianne says it so well.  There is no one else alive who can offer what you can offer to the world in the exact way that you can offer it.  Pressfield tells us that we must sit down and “do the work” to move forward and then we will feel better.  What if we put ourselves out there and we actually help others?  What if we put ourselves out there and end up helping ourselves?  What if we put ourselves out there and nothing happens?  We will never know what could happen until we stop listening to the Inner Critic and just do the work.

So many inspiring people have put themselves out there and given us permission to do the same.  Be brave.  Share yourself with the world.  It won’t be easy.  Resistance will rear it’s ugly head and try to keep you stuck where you are.  That is the sign that you must push forward because Resistance increases when there is a chance that we  will move into greatness.


You can do it.  And don’t worry, I will be fighting Resistance right next to you.

Talk again soon,


We are the World

Bad things happen every day all over the world.  In my opinion, they always have, but now we are inundated with live, detailed media coverage of it all in addition to the stress we are already experiencing in our own lives and communities.  Tragedies happen to people we know, people we work with, people we live near, and to us.

When something terrible happens to someone we are connected to, many times, we place expectations on ourselves to be able to do something to “fix” it or make it better.  We expect ourselves to know exactly what to say; to arrange some sort of event like a memorial or fundraiser or potluck dinner; to be ‘strong’ for them.  For some reason, we expect that we should know how to stop the other person from hurting so much, when we ourselves are hurting and stressed and fearful.  And that is a lot of pressure.

Because of this pressure we put on ourselves and how tired we already are from dealing with our own lives, we frequently don’t do anything at all.  We keep our distance; give them some space. We choose not to try because we may not live up to our own expectations to ‘fix’ it and then we feel bad for not doing anything.  And we and person who is hurt are all missing out on connection that can help in so many ways.

We feel uncomfortable because the other person is hurting and we just want it to stop…for all of our sakes.  That is just human nature.  But feeling the good and the bad is a part of authentically experiencing this journey as a human.  As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I don’t know exactly what to say or do to stop the hurting and I don’t expect you to know how to either. That’s not our job.

I am here to tell you that you don’t have to know what to say or what to do.  All you need to do is hold space for that person.  Sit with them.  Hold their hand.  Provide a safe place with your presence.  A safe place for them to feel what they feel and to just be. Provide them with company while they process and cope.

We must also acknowledge, however, that to be able to hold space for others and what they are feeling, we must also hold space for ourselves.  We must acknowledge what we are experiencing.  Then, let go of the expectations of doing it ‘perfectly’ and just be there for them.  The strength that is provided from holding space for others to feel safe and connected is exponentially more healing than anything else we can do.

imperfect brene

In the chaos of this world, we must learn to allow ourselves and others to be authentically human.  We must remember that to feel the good, we have to feel the bad, but that we can survive feeling it all if we come together, connect, and allow each other to do so.

In this time of advertised and sensationalized tragedy, our connecting to each other by being there, breathing, loving, and holding space, can allow us to cope and to become stronger together.  We can shorten the distance between us; we can feel that we are not alone in our suffering and anger; we can heal ourselves.  And that will help to heal the world we are living in.

We must remember that we are all the same energy.  We are all alike on the inside.  We all hurt.  But that we are stronger together.  And being together doesn’t have to look like anything other than standing next to each other.

Aham Brahmasmi.  I am the universe.  And so are you.

Talk again soon,




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