Tag Archives: balance

6 Ways to Be in Charge of Your Own Emotional Life

puppet womanLast week I wrote about how we can victimize and weaken ourselves by blaming others for hurting our feelings. In fact, taking greater responsibility for our own responses and reactions to what others might say or do is a path to emotional balance and maturity.

Despite what well-meaning people have told you, other people don’t exist to make you happy and they’re not responsible for how you feel. Likewise, you’re not in this life to jump through hoops in order to make others happy. You’re here to keep yourself on your own life path in the healthiest way possible, while harming none. This is not to say you accept abuse or remain in a relationship that isn’t supportive and loving. It just means you don’t allow yourself to be tossed about in stormy seas without a sail.

Here are my basic 6 ways to get in the driver’s seat of your emotional life. If you practice them, you’ll find you won’t be as susceptible to being hurt by off-hand or unfiltered remarks from others.

1. Develop good boundaries. If you’re not sure of what you think, believe, or want, you’ll be prone to being tossed around in someone else’s stormy sea. Be mindful of what emotional “stuff” belongs to you and what belongs to someone else.

2. Be yourself. This is mandatory! You’re here on the planet to be you, not a copy of anyone else.

3. Let go of the expectations of others. This means you get to live your own life and dismiss what others think you should or should not be.

4. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Give yourself some space to be real. Offer the same to everyone in your sphere.

5. Nurture the relationships with people you can trust who accept you as you are and who forgive (or ignore) your human foibles.

6. Free your mind from the judgment that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. Have no doubt that all is well and in perfect alignment.

You Hurt My Feelings! The Victim Blame Game

hurt feelingsOnce when I was around 12 years old, my Aunt Iris said something to me that “hurt my feelings.” I can’t remember what it was, but Iris was a smart, opinionated, outspoken woman and I’m sure it was nothing other than the bald truth.

Aunt Iris loved me and I knew it. She wouldn’t do or say anything of a negative nature toward me. Yet, I told her about what she said and how she hurt me. Instead of an apology, which I expected, my accusation was met with a surprise. “NO, I did not!” she exclaimed, looking me right in the eye. “I couldn’t possibly hurt your feelings.”

“But you did!” I replied.

“Impossible!” she said. “I don’t have one iota of control over your emotions and feelings. YOU are the only one with that power.”

What in the world? Why, this was simply stunning! Aunt Iris wasn’t taking responsibility for my feelings? She wasn’t even letting me make her wrong? Instead, she stood her ground. My little adolescent heart was hurt again. How dare her!!

But, Iris had just given me one of the greatest lessons for being emotionally balanced. She was teaching me on the spot that blaming others for the way I feel keeps me weak, powerless, and victimized. Since then, I’ve realized there is nothing anyone can say that can hurt my feelings. Which doesn’t mean I don’t feel hurt over things that are said sometimes. It just means I can’t blame the other for saying them. If I’m hurt, it’s about me.

And—holy liberation—others are responsible for their own emotions, too! Their emotions are under their control, not mine. They only wish I’d take responsibility and blame, so they wouldn’t have to. Sound familiar?

Now, I’m not a TV watcher except for one twisted secret pleasure: Orange County Housewives. There. I admitted it. Maybe I find it a fascinating case study in human relations. Yes, that’s it! And those women are absolutely committed to keeping themselves victims in the YOU-HURT-MY-FEELINGS realm. They can’t see it because humans are well-adapted to blaming others for how they feel. The ladies of the OC play the victim, don’t take responsibility for themselves, and perpetuate weakness among women. (After all, how many men do you come across who accuse their friends of hurting their feelings? It appears to be a very female crutch.)

So what to do? Keep the following in mind.

Other people are allowed to comment, express themselves, and speak their minds, even when you believe it’s hurtful. Because in truth, there isn’t anything anyone else can say that can hurt you. You choose to feel hurt because you’re not accepting that what another person says is about them, and not you. Yes, they are trying to make it about you, and you might be at fault. They might be right. Even so, it’s absolutely fine for you to let others make comments and not let them affect you. Something nasty from another person comes from their pain and ignorance. Plain and simple.

So give it a try. Stay centered. Keep breathing. It’s not actually about YOU.

While we’re on the subject, stay tuned for more in the next Holistic Woman post where I’ll talk about 6 Ways to Be in Charge of Your Own Emotional Life.

Mastectomy to Prevent Breast Cancer?

WomanI’ve been asked more than a few times what I think about Angelina Jolie’s choice to have her breasts removed as a method of preventing breast cancer. Although I’ve written a book about the many ways one can prevent and heal from breast cancer, I wasn’t sure how to be diplomatic about the news that a highly influential beautiful woman, that many women look up to, had made this decision. But here it goes. Is it after the fact? Yes. But it’s still timely because many women will find themselves faced with this same choice in their future.

First, I’m not in her head, so I hesitated to judge. I’m not someone who’s lost female relatives to breast cancer, although my father, grandma, and just two months ago, an aunt, died from cancer. I’m also not someone who gives my power away to men (or women) in white coats who have medical degrees. I think for myself, despite what others might believe. This isn’t always popular and it’s not always right, but there you have it. As a woman who lived through breast cancer, as a healer, and as a writer, I have an opinion.

That said, I believe the method of removing breasts to prevent something that might never happen is misguided. It brings to mind words like self-mutilation, self-hatred, ignorance, and misogyny. Yes, it does. Glorifying the mutilation of the female body gets me riled, and I’m afraid we’ve stepped closely to glorification in the case of Angelina Jolie. “Brave decision?” The braver decision would have been to take the path of the feminine and keep the breasts.

Let’s think about it for a moment. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, possibly thousands of things a woman can do to be pro-active and prevent breast dis-ease. I’ve written about many of them. I’ve used many of them. If the body is going to produce cancerous cells that proliferate, is it logical to remove the part of the body that this activity might show up in? Shall I now remove my brain, liver, lungs, and bones because breast cancer can recur in those places? Absurd! Cancer has a root cause, and this cause is not due to the fact that a woman has breast tissue. The causes are many, from viruses to stress to pollutants and toxins. And did I just read that Angelina has spent years of her life smoking cigarettes? Not much prevention going on there.

Breasts are hugely, might I say wildly, symbolic. They represent nurturance, nourishment, sustainment, sensuality, sexuality, and woman power. Female wisdom and power has been cut down through the ages. Cut off, removed, mutilated. So when I heard that one of our influential Hollywood beauties sold out to a culture that doesn’t want feminine power to become too much, or get too big, I was disappointed. I was dismayed. And at the same time, I understand that her decision was a human one born out of fear.

Before making a major life choice, it’s relevant to focus on creating balance in your mind and emotions first, then make your decisions based on your own inner truth and on higher wisdom that stems from a balanced perspective. I know from personal experience this isn’t easy to do when you have authority figures giving you advice. It isn’t easy to do when you are consumed with fear. But we must do it to save ourselves and halt the madness that is the degradation of the feminine.

Uncovering Hidden Agendas That Keep You Stuck

TM4Everyone wants to be healthy, successful, and happy, right? Not necessarily. All we need to do is look around and we can see that sometimes people like the benefits of not being healthy, not being successful, and of being miserable.

Remaining stuck or being a victim around nothing going right in life can have payoffs, but from my perspective we must eliminate these hidden agendas for our own evolution and for the benefit of all living beings.

Here are a few of the payoffs illness, misery, and a lack of success can offer:

  • Get attention
  • Get revenge
  • Be lazy, take it easy
  • Don’t have to work much
  • Be taken care of by others
  • Notice how much others care about you (as they’re offering support and ideas for you to improve your circumstances)
  • See what a stir you can make in the lives of others
  • Feel important
  • Feel special
  • Feel like there is something that sets you apart from others
  • Have an excuse not to do things you don’t want to do
  • Punish others, use “power” over others
  • Be validated as a real person/get listened to
  • Sabotage yourself
  • Have something happen in an otherwise mundane life
  • Fulfill the family legacy, e.g., “lots of people in my family have heart disease/didn’t succeed/were depressed”
  • Addiction to being a victim/accentuate the victim role

It is difficult for us to see our own hidden agendas. That is why they are called “hidden.” It’s valid to be honest and look at these agendas. They are disempowering and work behind the scenes to undermine you.

Chakra Health: Your Personal Wheels of Light

chaIn Sanskrit, chakra translates to “wheel of light.” The body has many chakras, but seven of these wheels of light are traditionally used for healing. The first chakra is located at the base of your spine while the seventh chakra is at the crown of your head. Each chakra has a role and point of view. In her book Wheels of Light, Rosalyn Bruyere says, “Each of the seven traditional chakras has a physical, an emotional, a creative, and a celestial component. Besides these, each chakra has its own purpose or particular viewpoint based upon the area of consciousness it influences.”

The chakras are swirling vortices, “energy centers” that connect with your internal organs and endocrine system. They affect your physical, mental, and emotional state, reacting to every thought, word, feeling, choice, and action. These energy centers respond to exercise, the food you eat, sunlight, the way you allow yourself to be treated by others, your thoughts and feelings about your relationship with the outer world, and they respond to chaos and confusion or peace and calm.

Dr. Valerie Hunt and Rosalyn Bruyere conducted studies at UCLA and found that the human electromagnetic energy field is generated by the chakras. Bruyere says, “Our research at UCLA was significant on more than one level. It was perhaps the first attempt made in our country to examine an electrical manifestation, a magnetic field phenomenon, as connected to the healing process.” She also says, “Health is generally defined as absence of disease, but this is really an unsatisfactory definition. The word ‘health’ means ‘wholeness.’ Health implies much more than freedom from disease. A complete definition of health must include vitality, appropriate feelings, clear thinking and reasoning, and a willingness to embrace change.”

In addressing “wholeness,” in striving for health and embracing change, the energy field and chakras are important. There is a flow of energy through the chakras in your body that has a natural balance. But when the body isn’t well, or when the emotions, mental state, or spiritual state are compromised, the complementary role of each chakra is also compromised. To try to heal yourself without addressing your chakras would be like trying to swim in oil. You might be able to look as if you’re doing it, but you’re actually bogged down and covered in muck.

The healthy flow of the chakras can be enhanced through what is commonly known as “chakra balancing.” Many healers specialize in the chakra system. When I see people in person, I always balance the chakras and energy field. One way you can help keep your chakras balanced is to leave your tech devices behind and go outside to sit on the earth. Connect with nature and allow yourself to be brought into balance. Breathe into your heart center. Soften your lower belly. Take a deep breath and sound out “AAAHHHHH…..” until you have no more breath. Listen to your higher guidance. Trust your intuition. You’ll be amazed at how much more centered and balanced you’ll feel.

My Thoughts on Doing a Silent Retreat

533796_3292120096307_1066899692_3043234_1472076028_nEvery year I do a silent retreat or two for at least a week at a time. And each time, people look at me puzzled when I tell them this is what I’m doing. After all, it’s so strange to not talk incessantly, or be talked to. Isn’t it?

Sometimes I join a group, other times I go solo. Often, in April, I like to do a solo retreat in Maui or Kauai (or both, let’s be honest). It’s my birthday month and I love to be immersed in the island vibe. But this April, since I was in Maui last September finalizing the last chapters of my new book, I decided to do a silent retreat in a place where I won’t be able to check messages because there’s no wifi, let alone cell phone service. I’ll be with about 100 others, who come together from distant places, all with a similar idea: let’s take a little breather from the madness, check in, tune in, and listen to what’s real and true, if only for a week.

I very much look forward to no talking, writing, reading, computers, television, or electronics of any kind. No checking email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no CNN, no Orange County Housewives. Am I in the minority when I think we’ve become a completely distracted, unbalanced society through this media? At any rate, there will be the sights and sounds of nature along with deer, turkeys, maybe a fox or two, hawks, lizards, sunshine and intermittent fog.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot—the sound of my own thoughts. The chatter of my inner 5 year old, my inner sullen teenager, and various other inner selves all interrupting my older, wiser self. There will be unexpected random memories, songs from 1983, compulsive planning, weighing the pros and cons of letting my hair go gray, living room redecorating, and ideas of what I should have said to someone 15 years ago. This chatter will go on at least for the first couple of days until it exhausts itself and my mind surrenders to balance and spaciousness.

The first time I attended a silent retreat, I had signed up for 10 days at a meditation center in the Massachusetts countryside. I’d been told by one of my professors that it was the best thing he ever did. Better than any sort of therapy. Incredibly transformational. So I jumped right in and attended the New Year retreat when we entered this millennium. It was lights out by 10pm on December 31, 1999. No fanfare, noise, champagne, nothing. We were awakened by the sound of a bell at 4:00am on January 1, 2000 to continue meditating. It was odd, but delightful.

So here I am 13 years later, still longing to get immersed in my week of silent meditation. Still looking forward to not knowing what’s happening in the outer world. It feels a little defiant, actually, in this information age, to simply turn my back on it all and ignore it. I won’t speak for a week, or be spoken to. I won’t hear my neighborhood’s leaf blowers, screaming children, or the Harleys going down Hwy 1 on Sunday. Instead, I’ll have the opportunity to engage inwardly, locate my deepest center, learn to love the rhythm of my own breath, and release a bit of what doesn’t belong to me.

When it’s over, I’ll return home with greater inner peace, with more love to share, and a greater tolerance for all that is noisy and alive. Now why would anyone not want that?

Insomnia? Sleep Well to Nourish Your Body, Mind, & Spirit

sleepYour body heals during sleep. It rejuvenates, renews, and recharges, mending what needs mending. 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. is a peak time to deeply nourish yourself after a busy day. If you’ve suffered from insomnia, you can sleep well to nourish your body, mind, & spirit.

If you’re not asleep by 10 o’clock, allow yourself to deeply rest from then on–stop work, turn off all electronic devices, no food or TV. Instead, deliberately calm your mind. Read an enjoyable novel, meditate, write down your thoughts, listen to a mind-balancing audio designed for sleep–begin a ritual to send signals to your mind that it’s time to prepare for deep, restful sleep.

Getting to the root cause of insomnia and returning to balance and wholeness is the holistic approach that sustains your body, mind, and spirit. (Using street or prescription drugs is like applying a bandage that remains on the surface and doesn’t truly heal. You know it.)

Here are 16 ways to sleep well, beginning with natural nutritional supplementation.

  1. Get adequate magnesium and calcium. I take a food-based magnesium supplement before bed and within 20 minutes I can hardly keep my eyes open.
  2. L-theanine is an amino acid that calms the mind and can be taken in the morning and again before bed. It’s especially good if you have a racing mind.
  3. Cortisol Manager by Integrative Therapeutics (available online) reduces cortisol levels to lessen stress and help you sleep–important for anyone living a high-stress lifestyle.
  4. Hyland’s Calms Forte is a homeopathic remedy that can help calm nerves and promote restful sleep. Find it online or in any natural foods store.
  5. MyoCalm PM by Metagenics is a combination of herbs and minerals for overall relaxation and sleep with no side effects.
  6. Drink relaxing tea, such as chamomile, in the early evening. There are several relaxing herbal teas specifically for bedtime at www.mountainroseherbs.com.
  7. Exercise daily, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk.
  8. Avoid caffeine during the day, or have green tea only in the mornings. Even chocolate in the early evening is enough to keep some people buzzing late into the night.
  9. Clear your bedroom of clutter, including computers, electronics, and television. Some people say they have to have the TV on to sleep. Really? That is a health problem waiting to happen!
  10. Stop answering the phone in the evenings if conversation activates your mind. Turn off your phone and all wifi at night. I know, it will cause anxiety initially, but you’ll get over it in a few days!
  11. Move electronics away from your bed and if possible, don’t have any in the bedroom. I have one electronic device in my room–an air filter–and I keep it many feet away from the bed.
  12. Calm your mind and spirit in the evenings by turning off the computer and television at least an hour before bedtime. Yes! Just do it.
  13. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Your body will thank you.
  14. Write down your thoughts and feelings to get them out of your head and onto paper. This way, they don’t swirl manically through your brain at 2:00 a.m.
  15. Meditate for a few minutes before bed to clear your mind.
  16. Put some sleep inducing music on your iPod and get your headphones ready. My favorite site for the best sleep-promoting CDs is www.monroeinstitute.org. You’ll find numerous amazing CDs for every sleep issue.

Finally, turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary. Get the unfolded laundry out of there, pick up the papers on the floor and put them in a different room, remove anything from under the bed, get comfy sheets and change them often.

If you still don’t sleep well through the night after you’ve tried these suggestions, see an acupuncturist, herbalist, naturopath, homeopath, or holistic practitioner. Each can help you with sleep disturbances. There is great hope and a solution waiting for you!

Transforming Depression into Wisdom

Sunny flowers can help brighten your mood. Yes, for men, too.

Sunny flowers can help brighten your mood. Yes, for men, too.

The way you think about the world, others, yourself, and the conditions of your life will correlate to your mood. Your perceptions of your relationships, your health, job or career, housework and chores, your money and bills will become your habitual state of mind. Often, these mental states creep in quietly and before you know it, they’ve become normal. Though it’s not fun to hear this when you’re in the midst of depression, you have the choice as to whether your mind states are pleasant or not.

Thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and emotions alter brain chemistry. So does pollution from air, water, and electricity, processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and even a lack of protein absorption. Dark moods can be triggered by loss, chronic illness, relationship problems, work stress, family crises, financial worries, and even unexpected change. Is there any wonder depression is so common?

But common as it might be, depression is a wake-up call to pay attention. What is the deeper meaning depression brings? What have we not been addressing within ourselves? Depression asks us to listen to its subtle messages so we can gain understanding and wisdom. We, as a culture, have been satisfied with avoiding deeper meaning. We seem determined to skim the surface, taking a pill whenever we don’t feel quite right. But when we act with courage to look within and alter habitual beliefs and thoughts, life expands and takes on new meaning.

There are many ways to be vital, strong, positive, hopeful, and joyous. Journaling and exercise, meditation, visualization, energy healing, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, going out in nature, proper nutrition, the use of mood-lifting essential oils, becoming more fully your authentic self, shifting your thoughts toward the positive, releasing the energies and expectations of others (often done through methods that access your unconscious mind such as energy work, hypnosis, biofeedback, or even simple visualization) ~ each of these can help you manage dark places.

Never allow yourself to despair for long. It’s okay to allow some blue moods, but if they stretch out for weeks, commit to getting assistance to help you through. There is hope and the journey is not that long.

5 Ways to Reduce Breast Pain

breast healthBreast pain is a frequent complaint heard by doctors. Reportedly, women complaining about it are overly busy, doing many things in little time. Like all pain, breast pain is holistic. It affects the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. Through pain we are given the opportunity to harmonize our lives before something more serious comes along with a louder message.

According to ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain indicates stagnation which can lead to disease. Stagnation can occur when the normal flow of fluid, including blood and lymph, slows down and becomes sluggish. Given the high rates of breast cancer, it makes sense to get plenty of movement through the breast tissue. Prevent clothing and bras from restricting your natural circulation. Yoga, massage, qi gong, and other body movement can enhance circulation and decrease breast pain.

When we listen to the messages pain carries, we become wise, improve our lives, prevent future disease, and participate in doing something to feel better. Here are five things you can do to “listen” to breast pain the next time it speaks to you.

  1. Experiment with various food and beverage choices to reduce caffeine.
  2. Hormones gone wild can contribute to breast pain. I recommend working with a naturopath or holistic doctor to have your hormone levels tested. From there, you will be able to know what needs balancing.
  3. Wear properly fitted bras and avoid tight clothing which can compress your lymphatic system and cut off healthy circulation. A poorly-fitted bra or top leaves marks on your skin, indicating poor circulation.
  4. Process your emotions in healthy ways. Research indicates a strong link between emotions and breast dis-ease.
  5. Foster self-nurturance. If you were your own precious child, what would you do to help her feel safe, nourished, and comforted?

Life Survival Skill #1: Adapting to Change

all shall be wellSurvivors throughout history are those who have best adapted to change. Charles Darwin, famous for his theory of evolution said, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” But change often brings up fear. Clinging. Panic. People don’t want to venture into the unknown and leave what they know behind. Willingness to go forward into the unknown requires faith in the future, or at least, an adventuresome spirit.

Change means letting go of the past and that which was familiar. Clinging to the past causes undue suffering and prevents new, often better, circumstances from entering our lives. Resistance to change is resistance to the forward flow of life. When you are more conscious of allowing change to happen, even when it is scary, you create fluidity. You become more in sync with the natural flow.

To help hone your life survival skills involving change, let’s answer a few questions to gain clarity.

When in the past have you responded well to change?

When have you not responded to change as well as you would have liked?

How do you feel when you know there is a big change coming? In what way does your resistance reveal itself? For example, eating more, worry, insomnia, anger, etc.

What is your usual reaction to sudden change?

What is the worst that can happen if everything in your life were to change?

You can use affirmations to help settle your mind around change, such as:

  • I easily adapt to change
  • I will adapt to this new way of life
  • I can flow with what life brings
  • If it’s happening, it must be ok, and I will also be ok.

Focus on how you want to feel when change comes: happy, confident, secure. And finally, when I’m resisting change, I keep in mind a quote by 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich ~

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing(s) shall be well.”

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