Living Self-Care: A Mindful Journey

Last week we started a new class Living Self-Care: A Mindful Journey at the Midwest Mind Body Health Center in STL which Stacey and I hope to offer online next month. We talked about our five mindfulness foundation skills, practiced “Simply Breathe,” and discussed how we could take care of “Our Bodies” outside of class.

My students gently reminded me how challenging it is to practice self-care and mindfulness outside of class and how helpful it is to have a group in which we deliberately set aside time to practice and how much they’d missed this. Honestly, I missed it too. Although I make time usually for self-care or mindfulness, I was also more lax since our weekly meetings stopped.

Likewise, because I often teach “formal” skills/exercises in class, I realized I hadn’t said enough about how to practice “informally” throughout the day with the opportunities that naturally occur. For example, today when I was out for a walk, I stopped to look and listen to a passing train until the caboose went by. Or the other day, noticing the passing clouds in the sky instead of rehearsing my to-do list. Or, being in the shower, and paying attention to the smell of the soap, the sound of the water hitting my skin and the way it feels when I open the shower door to grab my towel.

This week, see if you can find a group of like-minded souls to spend some mindful time together or look for ways to add informal practice wherever and whatever you’re doing. For formal practice, check out the “Simply Breathe” video above.

Best to each of you. Namaste.

The Year in Review

2014 turned out to be an extra-ordinary year for me. It was not easy but as Stacey and I and others (much wiser) say, we often discover more about who we are through life’s challenges than when the road is easily traveled. Last weekend, I was reminded of this again when the characters from “Into the Woods” start out on a path which “is clear and the light is good” and in the course of the story, the path becomes barely recognizable to them.

I will be sharing more throughout the year about this past year’s transformative journey and my personal growth; however, I would encourage you to take time now to reflect on what you gained in 2014. The challenges you faced and what you learned from them. The triumphs, large and small, which continue to define you. Maybe, you were reminded like me that we live in a constantly changing universe, and our ability to “keep doing our inner work” is how consciousness evolves.

Here’s what Patanjali wrote almost two thousand years ago on the subject of inspiration. Click here to listen to Wayne Dyer discuss this passage in his lecture on the Wisdom of the Ages.

Let it be a guidepost to you in 2015 in your endeavors to fulfill your potential, whatever the task.

INSPIRATION

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds.

Your mind transcends limitations, and your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.

Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

Enjoy the journey! Namaste

Happy Holidays and Update

We wish you all much health and happiness this holiday season and in the new year!

Lots has been going on, and you may have noticed our absence. Speaking for myself (Stacey), I have taken a job with Houston Community Newspapers that keeps me very busy…and happy!

I’ve able to watch the NASA Orion launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ride with the Blue Angels and meet some amazing people!

My continuing challenge is to take breaks and to say “no” to some of the stories that come across my desk, even if I WANT to cover them! It’s been tough and I’m practicing self-care every day. It would be easy to work 12 -14 hours a day because I get “in the flow,” but that’s not the best for me.

As always, I am a work in progress. How about you? What steps would you like to take in 2015 to improve your level of self-care?

Namaste.

Happy Thanksgiving to You From Us

Here’s a little something from us to you. Click here to put a smile on your face. Happy Thanksgiving and make certain to take time to celebrate your wonderful self.

We are grateful for each of you!

All the best, Diane and Stacey

Suicide Takes Front and Center

It was a sad day when the news broke about Robin Williams’ suicide. When someone famous takes their own life, it’s big news. “But he was so funny!” people say. The fact is that comedy and humor often mask great pain. Just look at John Belushi, John Candy and Richard Pryor as examples.

The fact is that someone in America takes their own life about every 13 seconds. The latest statistics show that approximately 40,000 people per year commit suicide. This year, one of them happened to be a beloved comedian.

I’m glad that more education about suicide and prevention is being discussed in the wake of this tragedy. Knowledge is the key to prevention.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, here are the most prevalent risk factors for suicide:

  • Mental disorders, in particular:
    • Depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
    • Alcohol or substance abuse or dependence
    • Schizophrenia
    • Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
    • Conduct disorder (in youth)
    • Psychotic disorders; psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Impulsivity and aggression, especially in the context of the above mental disorders
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of attempted or completed suicide
  • Serious medical condition and/or pain

It is important to bear in mind that the large majority of people with mental disorders or other suicide risk factors do not engage in suicidal behavior.

If someone you know is no longer talking about the future, is selling or giving away possessions for seemingly no reason and is no longer participating in things that he or she used to do, please INTERVENE. Suicidality is a medical emergency! Below are some resources if you or someone you know is feeling like they no longer want to live:

  • Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • —Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
  • —Hospital emergency room
  • —Urgent care center/clinic
  • —Call 911

It’s up to the people around us to notice these signs and symptoms because most of the time, a seriously suicidal person will not tell anyone that he or she is feeling this way. Talk about things! Be open! Ask questions without judgment! Let’s save some lives!!

Namaste

My George

When I was first in therapy for anxiety and panic attacks, my therapist gave me an exercise: draw the anxiety. It ended up looking a little like E.T. but with a sour disposition. I named it, “George.”

The purpose of naming the anxiety wasn’t to adopt it permanently into my psyche; it was to have something that was NOT me to “blame” for anxious thoughts, feelings, etc. Though I don’t have panic attacks or much anxiety anymore, I still call George out when negative or illogical thoughts come to mind, causing me distress. This is a technique that I have shared with clients, most with success.

Here’s an example:

Jan works in an office with several other people. Because of her upbringing and low self-esteem, Jan believes that people don’t like her very much. In her quest to feel better about herself, Jan started therapy and named those ugly thoughts, “The Hulk,” because they feel angry and green.

On her way out to lunch, Jan passed her co-worker in the hall. Jan smiled, but the co-worker’s face did not change from one that looked a bit angry. “Oh no!” Jan thought. “Sheila is mad at me! What did I do?” Recognizing the angry, green feeling of her “Hulk,” Jan started questioning her thought.

“Have I had any interactions with Sheila that would cause anger on her part? No. I haven’t even spoken to her in a few days. Could there be another explanation for Sheila’s mood? Of course! She could be irritated or frustrated with a number of things that have nothing to do with me.”

As Jan focused on these questions, her “Hulk” turned back into mild-mannered Bruce Banner, who is way more manageable than his alter ego.

If you deal with anxiety, depression or just negative thinking, what does your “George” look like? What color, shape and texture is it? What is its name? By having a third party to “blame” for these thoughts, you are living healthier – for you are NOT your thoughts. And your thoughts do not have to direct your behavior. I have taken away George’s power to control me, and I’m much healthier for it!

Namaste’

Summer: A Time of Wonder

Summer is a wonderful time to reflect on the magnificence of being alive. Enjoy reading Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” below. This week, see what you can discover in the magic of a summer day and savor each moment. If you need a little help, the hummingbird picture above can be the focus of your contemplation.

Hummingbird photo from Maggie.

Hummingbird photo from Maggie.

“The Summer Day”

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

~~Mary Oliver

 

Namaste.