Staying in the Flow, Yet Taking Time for You

hazy clouds duskAs I move from clinical practice into my new venture, I get into the “flow” much more often. This flow is the state of being so involved and immersed in what I’m doing that time doesn’t matter. I’ll look up at the clock after what feels like 10 minutes and realize that 3 hours have passed! This state is one of being constantly present.

It’s not like I don’t notice things around me – I do. But when I’m in this immersed state, it is easier to ignore things that would have side-tracked me before. I know that those things will still be around when I’m done with my current project.

The problem is that I get so immersed that I end up “working” sometimes over 12 hours a day! I put working in quotation marks because for the most part, I am enjoying what I am doing, so it doesn’t feel like work, even though I may get paid for doing what I am doing. However, working that much means that I am not taking time for self-care! That’s a no-no!

About 2 weeks ago, I was looking at my calendar and calculating just how much time per day I was spending doing work projects. That’s when I realized that I was working too much! It didn’t feel like I was, but whether or not I am enjoying myself, it’s essential that I take time out for renewal and recharging. I know that eventually, working that many hours will lead to burn-out.

Now, I set the alarm on my phone to alert me at various intervals to stop and stretch, eat (yes, I have to remind myself to eat!), and check in with the rest of the world. I also now have an alarm that goes off at 5pm, which means that I have to find a stopping point and actually stop for the day. It’s hard sometimes, but I find that when I do make myself stop, I end up doing things for myself and end the day feeling relaxed and accomplished.

Whether you like your work or not, it’s very important to keep regular hours and to include self-care in every day!

Namaste’.

Persephone’s Journey: How Everything We Touch Changes

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With the arrival of spring, I am always reminded of Persephone’s story and the lessons to be learned from the daughter of Demeter, mother earth, and her journey.

I was introduced to Persephone’s story a few years ago at a women’s retreat.  In Roman mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter, Mother Earth, who leaves “the world above” to become Queen of the Underworld. Although some versions say she was abducted by Hades and taken against her will, I prefer to believe that she left because she had outgrown living as a child in her mother’s garden and wanted to fulfill her unique destiny.

While she is still in the Underworld, she brings healing and hope to the spirits of the dead. Wherever she walks, “a line of bright daffodils sprout in her wake. By her simple presence and passing, she brings color and life” to the darkness below. However, she might not have noticed these changes at all if Hades had not asked her to turn her head and notice the changes she’s brought to a path that for her was “already in the past.”

So, here are some questions for you to consider this week. “What flowers, what color, what brightness have you left in your wake? Often without noticing it? Can you take a moment to turn, to notice? Can you take in the power, and responsibility, of this reality-that you too change everything you touch?

When you look over your shoulder, what do you see? And how does that feel? What might this noticing change?”

Enjoy your week. Namaste.

Note: Quotes are taken from 2010 Mystery School Workbook, Diana’s Grove

 

 

Pediatricians Should Start Screening for Postpartum Depression

Sorry for my lack of posts this week, readers. We had a nasty bug run through the family, and that is definitely a time for self-care! As you probably know, Diane and I are both advocates of postpartum mood disorder education. I stumbled across this post on Time online and thought I’d share it. I’ve always thought pediatricians were excellent resources to screen new moms! I know I showed up with my baby at her check-ups crying and falling apart, yet I was never asked about ME. I hope you enjoy this article. Namaste’ – Stacey.

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We’ve all heard about the importance of mother-baby bonding. When that doesn’t happen because a mother is battling postpartum depression, it’s not only mom who suffers; baby does too. Research has shown that babies who are neglected or cared for by depressed mothers may experience developmental delays.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now recommending that baby docs get in on the action and screen new moms for telltale signs of depression.

But isn’t the pediatrician the baby’s doctor? Well, yes, but mom’s well-being affects baby’s. In any case, a pediatrician has many more opportunities to interact with a new mother than other physicians since newborns have frequent well-baby check-ups. The peak time for major postpartum depression is six weeks, which coincides with the peak time of infant crying. Minor to moderate depression strikes most often in the first four months after delivery. The AAP recommends pediatricians screen mothers at babies’ one-, two- and four-month visits. (More on Time.comDiagnosing Postpartum Depression with a Brain Scan)

With some research indicating that up to a quarter of moms develop some form of depression after their baby’s birth, recognizing and treating the condition is a matter of public health.

It’s not enough for a pediatrician to simply make a gut assessment of how mom and baby are doing. “It wouldn’t necessarily always be obvious, so the evidence is that you really need to ask and it needs to be routine,” says Marian Earls, a Greensboro, N.C., pediatrician who was the lead author of the clinical report published in the November issue of Pediatrics.

As a result, pediatricians are being advised to ask mothers to complete a brief questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, 10 questions designed to reveal whether a mother is struggling. (More on Time.comHaving Kids, Especially Young Ones, Ramps Up Depression)

While the recommendation to screen is new, a fair number of pediatric practices — including Earls’ clinic and others in Minnesota, Illinois and New Hampshire — have already begun.

Earls’ practice has been doing it for five years; in that time, doctors have identified fewer than 10 women who needed immediate emergency services. When the questionnaire reveals cause for concern, mothers are more commonly referred on the spot to clinical social workers, who help them find support in the community. Sometimes they’re directed to early intervention services, where they learn how to interact and play with their baby. (More on Time.com: The ‘Mommy Brain’ Is Bigger: How Love Grows a New Mother’s Brain)

A pediatric listserv established to share pediatricians’ experiences with the screening has fielded plenty of comments about patients who are grateful their babies’ doctors are taking an interest in their emotional health. “A lot of moms need reassurance and demystification of what’s going on,” says Earls.

 

The Search for Meaning in a Sh*tball’s Existence

Today’s guest post comes from an “unlikely” source, Cracked.com‘s Felix Clay. Yes, it is long, may sound a bit irreverent and contains some NSFW language, but remember, Cracked is a satire site. This article, however, really hit home with me. I hope it does with you, too. Namaste. – Stacey

The Search for Meaning

Hinduism is widely considered the oldest religion in the world. There’s evidence from thousands and thousands of years ago of funerary rituals and statuary being buried with the dead, but the meanings behind all of that have been lost. Hinduism is generally the most organized form of religion that has survived and is understandable for you and me. What do you know about Hinduism that wasn’t taught to you by Apu, assuming you’re not a Hindu yourself? It’s safe to say you probably only have a passing familiarity with it.

Because Hinduism is actually a large number of beliefs and traditions that are all tossed together, it seems a little complex, but for the purposes of understanding the meaning of life, you need to know only a few key points: Hinduism, the oldest major religion humanity has, is concerned with the knowledge of truth and reality, moral order, and right actions. In so many words, a good Hindu is someone who does right and seeks the truth. He is tolerant of others and acts in a good way. Sound familiar? It’s pretty much every major religion ever.

How did it come to pass that, as a basic tenet of Christianity, we are supposed to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? And those who follow the Muslim faith are to pardon and forgive others, for Allah loves those who do good to others? All major religions that people adhere to en masse have the same message, because it’s a good one: do good, be good, and everything is good. Only an idiot would argue with that, right? This is the point where you ignore our history of religious intolerance and bigotry and agree that, fundamentally, every human who is “normal” believes the same thing. Theists, atheists, and agnostics likely all believe or will pay lip service to the ideal that we should treat each other as we want to be treated. We should be nice and not harm or steal from one another. In fact, I will argue that you can’t reasonably, rationally propose another method of existence. No sane person could do so with sincerity, because to propose a world in which it is OK to harm some, to kill some, to steal from some, is to readily accept that you are OK with being harmed and killed yourself, for any arbitrary reason, and I believe no one who is rational would ever accept that. So it’s wrong.

It’s a reasonable argument to make that we believe goodness is not a construct of man. Goodness and the idea of what it means to be good exist independent of man (even of God, whether you believe in it or not). Goodness and rightness exist independent of us and are things we aspire to, and that’s why all religions, throughout all time, have included these things. It’s no accident or crazy coincidence. So a major aspect of simply existing is doing good. Being good. And by this definition, it’s a pretty passive thing. It doesn’t take a lot of effort. Not harming someone else is as simple as staying in bed instead of stabbing your mailman. Not stabbing the mailman is a good thing. You did well today.

"I enjoy not being stabbed! Thanks!" Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

“I enjoy not being stabbed! Thanks!”
Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

I don’t want to make anyone think I’m suggesting that the meaning of life is to be found in religion. Religion, I would argue, is a good place to start looking, because it tries to answer those tough questions of how and why things are, and it’s how people have organized themselves for a hell of a long time. It’s like learning sex tips from an elderly person — they have the history to back them up, even if the reality of their involvement in it is horrifying.

Here’s the big issue with the meaning of life and why, I think, Douglas Adams proudly proclaimed that the meaning of life (and everything) was 42. Searching for the greatest, most diffuse, most incredible thing you could ever imagine is, ultimately, a letdown. Imagine being told you were just about to meet the most beautiful human who had ever existed, a perfect person in every single way, flawless and beyond criticism, the most wondrous specimen of biology nature could ever hope to fashion. What would that person look like? Can you even picture it? Probably not, but try. Try to form an image, and once you’re as close as you can reasonably get to what you feel the most perfect human in every way is, imagine them wiping their ass and a finger tearing through the paper. Not their fault; they’re perfect, but the paper was flawed. Now your perfect person has a poo finger. Are you disappointed yet?

Reality almost never lives up to expectation, and once you take something from the divine realm of imagination, from the place where your hopes and dreams are born, and set it on your sofa, it loses its mystique, its sense of awe. When you find the thing you think will answer all your questions and make your life more profound, it won’t. It can’t. And this is especially true for the meaning of life. Knowing the meaning of life will not make your life better; how could it? It will not elevate you or inspire you. Consider what happens when you know the end of a movie before you watch it thanks to some thoughtless boob telling you that Brad Pitt and Ed Norton were the same guy the whole time. It ruins it. It doesn’t make it better; it takes the thrill away. The meaning of life has to be 42 in Douglas Adams’ universe, because what the [heck] does that mean? If they got a real answer, it would suck so bad, you don’t even know. It would ruin it. Life would be ruined if someone literally handed you a booklet that explained it all.

The meaning of life is to live it.

Do you want to know what your purpose in life is? Live it and find out. Will you be a leader of men? A revolutionary? Will you feed the starving, clothe the poor, and elevate the spirit of all who meet you and hear your words? Or will you be a short order cook and make passingly good french fries that don’t have pubes on them? Both are valid, because both are lived lives. Do you prefer one over the other? Maybe. Doesn’t matter what you prefer, though. The meaning of life is not related to the life you’d prefer to live, any more than the meaning of a pile of rabbit turds on your lawn is related to the position of stars in the sky.

Asking for a preset meaning for your life is asking for the end of a story no one wrote yet, and even if you are a theist, you are presuming that God or whatever force of will you believe in has already decided where you’ll go and what you’ll do, meaning there is no meaning anymore. It doesn’t matter, because you’re just going to do it, and your thoughts and desires and feelings are irrelevant. Some meaning you have there. You have reduced yourself to a cogwheel in a big, complicated clock, just ticking toward inevitability.

So what is the meaning of a life that gets cut short? A person who dies in a tragic accident? A baby who only gets a single breath? What was the meaning of their existence? What good could have happened there? Did they bring you happiness? Teach you something new? That very well could have been their purpose, as much as a chair’s is to be sit upon or Justin Bieber’s is to be a glib little ass wrinkle. Sometimes you don’t get to know because that story isn’t yours. And that’s why the question of the meaning of life frustrates us so very much. You want to know what your story is, but you want to know the stories of everyone around you as well. You want to know how they fit together and work together. But you don’t get to. And, on some level, we know and have to accept that maybe the meaning of a life isn’t life-changing. Maybe the meaning of one life is just to be a footnote somewhere else. Maybe it’s just to be and nothing more. Or maybe not. Maybe you don’t even get to know the meaning because you never got to see how it fit into the grand scheme of things. I told you it’s unsatisfying.

The best way to approach the prospect of coming to terms with the meaning of your own life is not to ask what it is; it’s to decide what it should be. If you care, that is. If you really want your life to have a meaning, you need to kind of make it happen on your own, and it should be good. Good for you, good for others. Good for something. Make someone laugh. Be a sexual dynamo. Learn to paint ponies that are so kick-ass real that ponies should be [damned] ashamed of their shitty ponyness.

But you need to take the reins. Why should the universe cater to your whims? You need to get off your ass. The universe has 7 billion people on this planet alone to deal with, not to mention the 100 to 200 billion other planets in our galaxy, or the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets that likely exist in the entire universe (that’s a septillion, by the way). You have to assume there’s at least 100 other guys out there, so that’s 7 billion and 99 people other than you who need to be monitored. Who has the time to ensure that your life has a good and fulfilling purpose? Only you. Now go make me the best damn sandwich you can make!

Felix Clay is not a cat. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Felix_Clay.

The Kind of Love That Does Your Heart Good

I couldn’t have said it better myself! Read the original article here. – Namaste, Stacey

Love is a universal human emotion that permeates all aspects of life. We love our families, our friends, our partners, and even our pets. We can also love our jobs, music, artwork, landscapes, and certain foods. Love can be defined as a strong emotional attachment toward another person or thing that can produce feelings of euphoria and joy—or sadness and despair. There is no doubt that love is one of the most powerful emotions a human being can experience, yet we spend so much time focusing on loving everything around us that we often forget the most important recipient of love: ourselves.

Although the connection may not seem obvious, love of self is directly related to heart health and well-being. When we love ourselves, we take better care of ourselves and are less likely to engage in harmful or unhealthy behavior like overeating, alcohol abuse, and neglecting the body. In addition, studies show that high self-esteem levels might even protect the heart by boosting your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Your PNS calms your heart by suppressing stress levels, lowering your heart rate, and fighting off inflammation, which in turn can protect your cardiovascular system. So when you love yourself, you nurture and revitalize both your spirit and your physical body.

5 Easy Ways to Love Yourself More:

1. Stop Beating Yourself Up and Start Being Kind to Yourself

We can all be our own worst critics, sometimes to our detriment. A certain amount of introspection is healthy, but when you constantly focus on your flaws or failures, you start to develop a skewed sense of self that can spill over into your external world. Instead of focusing on the negative, remind yourself of the things you like about yourself. Give yourself compliments and be compassionate toward yourself. When you are kind to yourself, that positive energy will shine through, making it easier for you to accomplish your goals and easier for others to treat you with the same kindness.

2. Spend Time With Yourself

The better you know yourself, the easier it is to love yourself. One of the best ways to develop a sense of self is to spend time alone. Schedule in some time every week when you turn off your phone and your computer and simply concentrate on you. Read a book, meditate, go for a walk, or take yourself out to dinner or the movies. The more time you spend with just you, the more centered and grounded you will become, and the better equipped you will be to battle negative emotions and to live life with more meaning.

3. Do What You Love

How many times a week do you do something you truly love? How many times in a month? A year? Part of loving yourself is nurturing your soul with the things that make you happy. This could be dancing, singing, traveling, learning a new language, or even just sitting quietly with a cup of tea and a crossword puzzle. Feed your soul with joyful activities, and that happiness and contentment will resonate through your life and extend to the people around you.

4. Choose to Be Around Positive People

The people you choose to spend your time with are a direct reflection of how much you value yourself. Surround yourself with positive people who are caring, supportive, and nonjudgmental, and you will feel loved, appreciated, and respected. Studies show that individuals who associate with cheerful people have a happier demeanor and consequently a better sense of well-being. If, on the other hand, you surround yourself with toxic people who bring you down, how can you not feel unloved and unappreciated? Life is too short to waste time with people who suck your happiness and energy, so make the choice to allot your time to those who encourage and inspire you.

5. Be Your Own Caregiver

At times it may feel as though your job in life is to care for and support those around you. But how can you properly care for others when you neglect your own health and happiness? Make an effort to take care of your body by eating healthily, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly. Manage your stress by meditating or making time for yourself. Instead of relying on others to take care of you, take the initiative to look after your own physical and emotional well-being, and your confidence and sense of self-worth will grow.Loving yourself is not about being selfish. It’s about taking care of your own needs so that you can be the best person possible to yourself and others. When you truly start to love yourself, you will find that your health improves, you become happier and more balanced, and you are able to enjoy good people and good things in your life.  For more information about healthy living and balancing your body, mind and spirit, please read my comprehensive book on heart health, Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength and Spirit from the Body’s Core. The book includes many more insights about how to nurture and care for your heart on both a physical and emotional level.

CynthiaThaikFor more by Dr. Cynthia Thaik, check out her website and click here for her blog on The Huffington Post. You may also follow her on Facebook.

Start Loving Yourself By Not Judging Yourself

Jack Kornfield, psychologist and founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, tells a story about a group of western meditation teachers who went to visit the Dali Lama. During a discussion about self-compassion, the teachers related how critical and self-rejecting they felt. In fact, several actually used the word self-hatred which the Dali Lama had never heard. After he finally understood what they meant, he replied ” But, no. This is wrong. The way to relate to oneself is with self-compassion and love.” As Buddha said, “You as much as anyone else in the universe are deserving of your love.”

At livingselfcare, this is one of the practices Stacey and I mention often because many of us relate to ourselves with judgement, self-criticism and even self-loathing. A few weeks ago, I was teaching an intro to mindfulness when a new student commented about how during our breath awareness exercise, she kept judging herself and focusing on how she was messing up. Another student, who’s been practicing mindfulness for a while, spoke up and said, “I used to do that all the time when I started. Lately though, it’s gotten better and I can quiet those thoughts more. I try to be kind and patient towards myself like I am with my children and friends. It’s still an effort but that’s okay.”

This week, each time you look in a mirror smile, and remind yourself how precious you are. Remember, each of you is a unique expression of the universe and that’s something special!

Namaste

Self-Care: Make It #1 on Your “To Do” List

Do you treat your body as if it is sacred? Do you have a regular exercise and fitness regimen? Are you eating healthy meals? When is the last time you went to a spa to pamper yourself?

Your body is your temple. Think about it. It is the only place ‘your self’ has to live in. Life’s responsibilities are countless for many of us. And in trying to juggle those responsibilities we neglect to take care of ourselves–our temple. We might think about our physical health but that is often where it begins and ends.

Most of my adult life has been weighted with high stress careers, once in the military, and now in corporate America. I rise before the aurora and retire long after sunset. Over the past few months my stress levels have been escalating, my body was feeling energy-drained, my skin was breaking out and my mental acuity was becoming dull. So I thought, “I can combat these negative forces and make improvements in my overall health if I just make taking care of myself number one on my ‘To Do’ list.” So I have taken steps to do precisely that and have seen steady progress. You, too, can make marked improvements in your health and fortify your body–your temple.

Make Self-Care #1

Self-care is an integral part of stress management. Our bodies are conditioned to respond negatively to unhealthy forces bombarding it. Granted, it tries to warn us, but often we do not listen. Bottom line is you can dial-it-back and condition yourself to focus on a healthy diet, exercise and relaxation. Increasing your relaxation response can prevent chronic stress from having a negative effect on your body and overall health.

Get started with these five basic tips:

  1. Make exercise a morning priority before your day gets started.
  2. Drink plenty of water (it flushes impurities from the body).
  3. Get a massage (it is known to promote relaxation and well-being).
  4. Go cold turkey on doing things that don’t fuel you.
  5. Take a break from your agent of stress (go on vacation).

Don’t wait for the body to warn you. Start today and put self-care higher on your own ‘To Do’ list.

SavionToday’s guest blogger is Dr. Sydney Savion. Dr. Savion is an applied behavioral scientist, member of the American Psychological Association and scholar-practitioner in the field of life transition for more than a decade. She views life transition as a gradual psychological progression of questioning self, others, the situation, seeking a new direction, and a quest to start to anew. It is a natural part of living that is triggered by an event that has a momentous impact upon and changes a person‘s life ecosystem in a manner that demands a person to cope and adjust. For example, this event could be a loss of a loved one, a marriage, your mental health, or even livelihood. She is the author of the Living a Blissful Life blog on HealthyPlace.com.