Tag Archives: relax

11 Ways to Navigate through Stressful Times

tumblr_ll3l0cUWgz1qb6t6wo1_500Life has stressful times as a norm, but right now some of us are feeling a more intense squeeze. Feelings of discomfort, unease, and vague anxiety can be constant. Some are feeling great intensity while others are simply riding the waves of expansion and growth, excited to see where they’re going but longing for guidance to navigate the new terrain.

The underlying theme of the day is we’re being forced to change from within by letting go of old, outdated, now-useless ways of being and allowing something new to emerge. Allowing a more creative, self-responsible, and I’d like to believe wiser part of us to come forth.

There are many things we can do to manage stressful times (without numbing out). If you are in a state of self-excavation where extreme personal inner evolution is happening, if you’re in a let go or be dragged phase or your life, welcome fellow traveler!

Always treat yourself like you’re a whole human being with a body that is interrelated, interconnected, and not at all separate from your thoughts, emotions, and soul. Today people are quite disconnected from their emotions and thoughts, not to mention nature, the natural rhythm of the earth and sky, and their own soul energy. If this sounds like you, navigate more powerfully and successfully through unknown territory by paying attention to the needs of your physical body, your mind, your emotions, and your true soul essence.

How?

It’s not that complicated, really. I’ve tried all kinds of convoluted ways and experience has shown me to simply return to the basics. Any links with the following will direct you to my previous posts on that topic.

  1. Eat well. Quality protein with vegetables is my staple of choice. Fresh fruit. Plenty of water.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. Preferably at night, all night.
  3. Move your body and exercise.
  4. Go out in nature for a little bit and spend time on the earth.
  5. Seek out people who are trained to help you heal what’s nagging you. We need others to help us who have already seen this part of the journey.
  6. Have some body work (a massage is ideal) which helps settle tension and calm your mind.
  7. Have energy healing (or see a respected counselor) if you are emotionally or mentally stuck. Don’t feel as if something can’t get better. It can and it will if you want it to.
  8. Take time away from electronics and tech devices. Turn everything off and then feel what you feel. Get in touch with the discomfort and be okay with it.
  9. Breathe in and breathe out fully. Breathe in again. Release the breath completely as you breathe out and let go of all that is ready to go.
  10. Sit through the storms without having to self-medicate, get distracted, or otherwise foil the attempts of your soul to have this incredible life experience. Because the number of medicated, distracted, soul-detached people is so high that we’ve become a zombie civilization. Numbing out might feel like the way to get through, but the noise inside will only get louder.
  11. Finally, tell yourself this: All is well with the world. All is well in my world. There is nothing I need to make happen. I easily flow with life. I’m here to create and find joy in my creations.

 

Use the Earth to Energize Your Body, Mind, & Spirit

on the earthThe earth offers us food, clothing, and shelter, but also offers healing energy to energize and balance us. “Healing energy” from the earth might sound odd, but when we connect deeply with the earth and either imagine, sense, or hold the intention to fill ourselves up with its energy and light, a natural balancing occurs. Anxiety fades, depression lifts, worries and struggles soften, and it’s easier to approach others with more love and compassion. For these benefits and more, see how often you can get your feet on the earth and use its energy to harmonize you.

In Reiki, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi, energy is drawn from the earth, but you don’t have to learn those forms unless you want to. You can do simple processes. It’s important to begin by connecting with the earth. One of the biggest maladies of our modern era is that people are not connected to the earth. This is associated with addictions, fears, and mental and emotional distortions of all sorts. Especially now when we are inundated with technology to further disconnect us, it’s wise to be aware of the life and essence of the planet beneath your feet.

In my work with clients, the first thing I do is connect people to the earth. I do this visually, which is highly effective. You can do it yourself by standing tall on the earth (barefoot is best) and imagine roots extending from your feet, anchoring you deep into the earth. Be perceptive of the energy in the earth beneath you. We have a living, breathing, powerful life force beneath us, yet who takes note? This simple practice is powerful enough to drain away excess emotions, soothing chaos and frazzled nerves.

Another way to connect is to imagine dropping an anchor of light from the base of your spine into the center of the earth. Then, bring bright light up from the earth into your body. Alternatively, sit on the ground, “drop anchor,” and absorb positive earth energy upward into your body. How do you bring light into your body or absorb positive earth energy? Imagine it, intend it, sense it, feel it. In doing so, you’re making it happen.

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!

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.”

Self-Healing with Energy

lightThe earth offers us food, clothing, and shelter, and it also offers healing energy. The idea of drawing healing energy from the earth might sound odd, but when we connect deeply with the earth and either imagine, sense, or hold the intention to fill ourselves up with its energy and light, a natural balancing occurs within us. We become more serene physically, mentally, and emotionally.

One method you can use is to stand tall and imagine roots extending from your feet, anchoring you deep into the earth. A more powerful and healing way to do this is to stand barefoot on the ground. Feel the bottoms of your feet connecting to the living planet beneath you.

Another way is to imagine dropping an anchor of light into the center of the earth extending down from the base of your spine. Then, imagine drawing bright light energy up from the earth into your body. Alternatively, sit on the ground, “drop anchor,” and absorb earth energy upward into your body.

Just as you can pull energy up from the earth, you can also pour light into yourself from above. Simply visualize light pouring into you. It can be golden, blue, green, silver, or whatever color you imagine. See or sense it as energized, refined, and uplifting, filling your entire body.

These practices can be used by anyone regardless of their beliefs. Whatever your image is of God, the universal awareness, or even if you don’t consider yourself to be spiritually connected at all, you can use light and energy from the earth to heal and balance you on many levels.

Why Meditate?

meditationThe most immediate way I integrate spirit into daily life is through meditation, the simple practice of quieting the mind long enough to become aware of the here and now, to become aware of what is within. Meditation reconnects us with ignored parts of ourselves.

Our souls live through our bodies. To connect with the soul we connect with the body. Through this connection, excess mind chatter, worries, and fears die down so we can settle into the present moment.

One basic, widely-used meditation technique is to sit with your eyes closed. Bring your attention to your breath without changing it in any way. Observe the inhale and exhale. Note when the in-breath stops and becomes the out-breath. Do this for several minutes twice a day. It’s that simple!

Sometimes, however, it’s not so easy, and there are reasons for this. During meditation your mind races, your breath is sometimes quick and shallow, you might feel frustrated or restless and don’t want to focus on your breath. You want to think instead. Sometimes people I work with say “I’m just a big thinker.” That’s true! This is what our minds do. They think about the past, what someone did, what you yourself did or didn’t do, what you’re going to eat for dinner, how your knees ache while your sitting quietly. The mind will do this. It generates thought, continually. Despite this, basic meditation practice is about bringing your focus back to your breath and quieting the thoughts.

Your mind will master you if you don’t master it. Meditation is a simple way to develop mastery over the mind.

7 Ways to Have a Real Thanksgiving

Recently I asked a friend, “What do you think is the importance of gratitude?” He said, “I feel good. It opens my heart up. Maybe that is enough. But it is a form of delight. I have a need to get to the feeling of gratitude. I can’t will it, but instead I must feel it. It comes from the act of giving. God gives us all this abundance. Gratitude is a feeling you show toward kindness or a blessing.” Wow!

Of course, it’s easier to feel deeply grateful when life is going well. But the practice and real treasure comes when you express appreciation for life even when it’s difficult.

Professors of Psychology Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons did research on gratitude and thanksgiving. Their studies found that daily gratitude exercises lead to higher alertness, enthusiasm, optimism, and more energy. They also found that grateful people feel more loved, less stressed, and less depressed. They exercise more regularly and make more progress on personal goals. All this from having gratitude for something! And each day, there is something to be grateful for.

As our gratitude holiday approaches, my practice is to keep my thoughts focused on what it’s truly about (between running to the store for more cranberries…). Here are my 7 ways to have a real Thanksgiving.

1. List 10 parts of your body that function reliably. For example, your ears, eyes, heart, bladder, kidneys, knees, ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, stomach, nose, eyebrows…

2. List 10 things that make you happy.

3. List 10 people who have helped you in the past, no matter how small.

4. List 10 people you have helped, no matter how small.

5. List 10 things you are grateful for in your life.

6. List all of the good that has come into your life in the last 5 years.

7. Complete the following sentence: I’m so happy and grateful now that…

Renew Yourself in 20 Minutes with a Salt Bath

girl in bathYou can clear your mind, relax your muscles, de-stress, press your personal reset button, and emerge renewed by soaking for 20 minutes in a salt bath. The tightness in your neck and shoulders will dissolve away, you’ll have a cleaner aura, and you’ll get the added benefit of clearing toxins from your body as the salt water draws toxins out of your skin.

You can add baking soda and lavender essential oil if you want to increase the detoxifying and relaxation benefits of your bath. Sometimes I even pour in a little apple cider vinegar, which helps to restore the skin’s pH balance.

Immersing your body into saltwater is an easy way to cleanse your energy field while reducing muscle tension. It’s particularly helpful when you feel overwhelmed, hurt by something that happened during the day, your mind is busy, or if you feel out of sorts. The bath is truly holistic, relieving physical, mental, and emotional stress.

Some people like to rinse off in the shower after the bath to remove salt residue, but whether you rinse afterward or not, don’t stay in the bath longer than 20 minutes, as this is when you will start reabsorbing the toxins that your body has just released into the water.

Recipe for Salt Bath

1 cup to ½ box Epsom salts
Very warm water in a clean tub
Use a bath ball to filter your bathwater so you don’t soak in chlorine (google “bath ball faucet filter”)

Optional:

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 handful sea salt
8-10 drops essential oil such as lavender (or rosemary if you’re mentally fatigued)
1 handful baking soda

Remain in the tub for 20 minutes. Don’t reuse the water.

Afterward, be sure to drink plenty of extra water to re-hydrate.