Tag Archives: mental-health

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

If you’ve ever flown before, you’ve heard this statement, “In the event of an emergency and the oxygen masks drop down, please put  your mask on first before assisting children or others.”  This serves as a reminder that we need to care for ourselves before we can care for others.  As women, it is part of our nature to be the care-givers of the people in our lives, while also caring for our homes and maintaining a career outside of the home.   We, at least many of us, tend to place our needs and desires last on the list.  I invite you to make a change and “put on your oxygen mask first”!  I often find that, when I take some time for myself, I  have all that much more energy and love to give to my family.   So, make a date with yourself!  Below are some suggestions if you’re at a loss for where to begin.  Enjoy!  Please share in the comment section your self care ideas.

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*Sit outside and read a good book

*Enjoy a cup of tea and some quiet time

*Take a relaxing bath

*Practice yoga alone or take a class with some friends

*Practice some restorative yoga

*Take a walk and be with nature

*Share a meal with friends

*Get a massage

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Eleanor Brownn

 

 

Feel Your Feet

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Last night on my way home from work I received a phone call from my husband that he and my children were at the emergency room.  My daughter had fallen and hit her head.  They wanted to be sure she did not suffer a major concussion.  I felt my feet on the gas and floor of my car and said a prayer.  Walking into the hospital, I kept my awareness in my feet feeling the firm ground beneath each step.  When I met up with my family back in the room I told my daughter to feel her feet and I placed my hands on her feet.  She closed her eyes and her breathing slowed as did mine.  When the doctor examined her they thought everything was mild but wanted to do an x-ray of her neck because of her neck pain.  This entire experience was all new to my daughter, luckily, she has never had to go to the hospital.  Once in the lab room for x-rays, I saw her anxiety increase.  I once again told her to press her feet into the chair and she calmed.   I was amazed how calm we both were throughout the entire ordeal.  To all of our relief, everything looked good and we were sent home.  Today she is feeling better and we are all grateful for this new day!  Life is so precious!  These simple words have been the most powerful tool in my life that I learned from my Urban Zen Training.  Whenever I’m feeling anxious or scattered, I feel my feet.  Whether I’m standing or sitting, I bring my attention to my feet and I really notice the firm ground under my feet.  From this planted place, my breath naturally slows and my mind quiets allowing me to think clearer and to be present. When I’m working with a patient or client that is experiencing anxiety, nausea and or exhaustion, “feel your feet” are often the first words out of my mouth.  When we feel our feet, we drop into our body and can immediately feel a sense of connection to the earth and a feeling of calm presence.  Allowing us the ability to proceed with conscious awareness.

Give this a try.  I would love to hear in the comment section below how this affects your life.

“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises.  You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.  Eckhart Tolle

 

Spring Cleaning Week 4

It is popular in our culture to say how busy you are.   As a parent, we can feel pressured to be on every committee and sign our children up for several sports, piano lessons, art lessons and, encourage them to achieve top grades.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there are many well intentioned people and parents out there and we are all doing the best we can.  Employers are expecting more work out of fewer people and, with technology, we can stay connected 24/7.  Just writing this, makes me feel a bit anxious and exhausted.  I thrive with a full schedule of teaching yoga but realize I need some down time to be by myself and with my family and friends.  I’m encouraging you and myself to find balance.  Consider your schedule and your children’s schedule if, you have children, and, see what, if anything, can be removed.  What are the things that you dread doing or what activities do you have to beg your children to participate in.  These are the items to extract first.  Then notice how you feel.  Make note in this process of what it is you really want to do and make time for that.  Simplifying our schedule offers us more time to do the things we love and spend time with our family and friends.  I highly recommend Laura Thompson Brady’s Class again this week as she helps you with this process as well.

http://www.thenourishedhome.com/hectic-to-harmonious/

I also recommend the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne for the parents out there.  Have a lovely week.  I hope you have some time to enjoy the Spring weather!

“In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trips to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”
Kim John Payne

 

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Spring Cleaning Week 2

Clutter can leave us feeling bogged down energetically as well as mentally.  When I have clutter, I have trouble focusing and getting things done.  I feel a sense of underlying low level anxiety and stress.  I, like many of you, do not have entire days off when I can clean and de-clutter so I’m left with where to start?!  Recently I completed Laura Thompson Brady’s e-course “Hectic to Harmonious”. http://www.thenourishedhome.com/   This course was amazing and really helped me to set small achievable goals.  One part of the e-course was simplifying your home.   She suggested to pick one small corner or one small area and envision what you want it to look like and feel like and de-clutter or reorganize that one small area.  WOW!  This had a huge impact on me and my family’s  energy level and mental health.  I started with bookshelves as I love books.  I reorganized and gave away books that were no longer age appropriate or ones that were no longer of interest to me.  The energy I obtained from this small task encouraged me to continue this process when I had even just 15 spare minutes.  My son’s art table was my most recent project.  This table is in our kitchen and is one of the first things I see when I walk into my home from the laundry room.  It is a “catch-all” for my son.  If he doesn’t want to take the time to put it away, he puts it on the art table.  I found some great ideas on Pinterest for organizing pencils and crayons  and placed a large piece of white paper on the table.  It looks wonderful and it feels so great to walk into my kitchen now.  I invite you to pick one small corner of your home and de-clutter.  I would love to hear how this affects your life!

download

 

 

Week 4 Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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This week I would like to invite you to try a meditation/visualization practice.  After the birth of my daughter, 14 years ago, ( wow, really), I went through a period of my life with high anxiety.  This anxiety was keeping me from doing fun things around others and hurting my marriage.  I started seeing a psychiatrist that was more open to talk therapy, yoga and meditation.   In a session, she invited me to close my eyes and visualize a place where I felt most peaceful and joyful.  The first place that came to mind was a beautiful rose park in our town, (I wrote a previous post about this beautiful park https://yogaandinspiration.com/2012/06/).  She took me through this park  with my senses.  I found this practice so helpful and accessible to do on my own when I started feeling overwhelmed.  I often used this meditation/visualization while going to sleep which helped me drop into a deeper more restful state of sleep.  I invite you to read through this and then sit or lay down and try for yourself.  What is your most peaceful place?

See all the colors around you.

Notice any sounds you hear.

Notice the textures around you and, feel the warm sun on your skin or a soft gentle breeze blowing through your hair.

Notice any pleasant aromas in the air.

Observe how calm and peaceful you feel in this favorite place.

Find a place to sit or lay down and rest in this favorite place feeling so relaxed and safe.

May you find comfort with this practice.

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
– James Allen

Week 3 of Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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Mindfulness:  Bringing ones complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, (according to Wikipedia).

My word for 2014 is presence, which to me is being mindful and fully present to each moment of my day as it unfolds.  I still find myself worrying about things in the future.  However, as I keep bringing my attention back to my intention of being present, I realize that I’m worrying about something that has not happened and may not even happen.  Instead of getting carried away by the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed which, has an ill effect on my overall health, I, am retraining my brain to come back to the moment.  This retraining creates new neural pathways, (this a whole other blog post).  Even if this moment is not a “pleasant” moment I can deal with it much more effectively when I’m present.  With presence, I can enjoy my meals, my afternoon tea and cuddling with my children with full attention.  With presence I can really see and hear people.  Think about it, when was the last time you really felt heard and seen by someone or, really listened and saw someone?

Week 2 of Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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Here we are at week 2 of our Meditation/Mindfulness Journey.  This week’s practice is Loving Kindness Meditation or Metta Meditation.  Typically with Loving Kindness Meditation we start with offering loving kindness to ourselves followed by our loved ones and then, to persons that are neutral, for example, the grocery store clerk a stranger on the street, finally, we offer loving kindness to people we find it difficult to be around.  You could spend a month or more offering loving kindness to yourself if you feel the need or desire.  After all, we need to love and accept ourselves truly before we can love others.

How:  Find a comfortable position and settle in.  Becoming aware of sensations in the body and then noticing your breath.  Bring your awareness into your heart, maybe placing your hands on your heart.   Silently repeating these phrases or, any that feel more comfortable to you, 2-3 times.  As you are ready you can progress to loved ones and so on:

May I be healthy in body and mind

May I be happy

May I live with ease and in peace

According to Jack Kornfield in Meditation for Beginners, Mahatma Gandhi said, “I believe in the essential unity of all beings, and so I understand deeply that if one person gains spiritually, the whole world gains.  If one person falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”  Kornfield contines,  “thus to wish others well or to send loving thoughts and prayers to another is not simply a rote or automatic activity.  The practice is based on the effect our thoughts and feelings and actions have on the world around us.”

“When you plant lovingkindess in the garden of your heart and continue to regularly nourish and fertilize it, it will begin to spread and grow.”  Jack Kornfield

28 Day Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

“When we take time to quiet ourselves, we can all sense that our lives could be lived with greater compassion and greater wakefulness.”  Jack Kornfield

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Meditation and mindfulness is spoken of everywhere now.  There are multiple studies being conducted on its effects in the corporate world, education, the health care system and the military.  Technology is and can be a wonderful tool to communicate world wide and get things done faster.  However, it can also lead to higher stress, heavier workloads and disconnection.  Meditation and mindfulness offers a tool for living in the present moment. In turn, lowering stress levels and increasing awareness and compassion for self and others.

I invite you to join me and my yoga students on this 28 day journey.  I will post a meditation/mindfulness practice each week.  We will start with 10 minutes of meditation.  I invite you to journal the effects and experiences of your meditation practice.  You are welcome to post comments in order to create a community of support.
How?  It is ideal to pick a particular time of day but if that does not work for you, choose a time that will.  Turn off phones and set a timer for 10 minutes.   You can sit or lay down if necessary.  Sit on a comfortable seat, either in a chair or on the floor.  I encourage you to sit with support under your buttocks to elevate the hips higher than the knees. This posture invites the spine to rest in its natural curves and allows the body to be open for optimal breath space. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes or let the gaze release down, keeping your head in a neutral position with your ears balanced above your shoulders.  Notice sounds, then bring your awareness to sensations of your body and the parts of the body that are in contact with your chair or the floor.  Then bring your awareness to your breath, not changing the breath.
First Week Theme:  “Simply” watch the breath.  I say simply as it is not really simple.  You will find that your mind wanders and many thoughts often arise.  That is okay and normal.  Let your thoughts become like clouds passing by in the bright blue vastness of the mind, not becoming attached or getting carried away by them.  Keep coming back to the breath and the sensations of the breath at the tip of the nose and inside the body.  You could notice the temperature, the texture or maybe the length of the breath. That’s it!

I invite you to notice how this practice begins to affect the rest of your day and your interactions with others.  I noticed how my meditation practice allowed me to respond instead of react to my son’s behavior which helped him to calm down more quickly.  I also noticed a decrease in my anxiety levels as well.

Possibilities!

The start of a new year offers a time to reflect on what is working for you and what is not; what thoughts and actions are leading you to your best self.  The beginning of a new year opens the door to possibilities.  My yoga practice deepens my life experiences and fosters a life lived intentionally.  Yoga offers me the tools with which  to look inside to discover who I am and my purpose in life.  Many use yoga as a form of exercise to tone, stretch and strengthen their body.  If this is what you are looking for, you will find it.  Yoga can offer so much more as well.  A consistent yoga practice can offer relief from physical and mental pain and lead one to potential inner happiness.  Maybe you set New Years’ Resolutions every year and find that by the end of the first month you have forgotten about them or thrown in the towel, seeing the “resolutions” as unattainable.  I invite you instead to open yourself to the possibilities of what this new year can bring you with small but meaningful changes by giving yoga a try.  Yoga is not just for the flexible, (which actually, I’m not naturally flexible).  If you can breathe, you can do yoga.  Real Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis DVD was  created to reach those with MS.  However, anyone can benefit from the yoga practices on this DVD.  We are offering free shipping and handling for the month of January 2014.  Check out this sneak preview of our DVD.

Inhale, Exhale, Pause

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Filling up, emptying, stillness.  Taking in, letting go, bliss.  This powerful breath practice has fostered me through many moments of restlessness and anxiety.  This time of year can be difficult for me and when it is time to go to sleep even though, I’m sleepy, my mind starts to race.  I turn to this breath practice to calm my mind and relax my nervous system.  It is in the pause that I find a moment of absence of thought, freedom from fear, a moment of relief.  When the practice is repeated, it culminates into several moments of inner peace and allows me to drift into a deep sleep.  In the pause, I can be in the now, in the present moment.  Which I know this is the only moment I have, the only moment any of us have.  When you lay down to sleep or any time you find your mind racing, I invite you to notice your breath and notice the pause between the exhalation  and the inhalation, not a holding of your breath, just a natural pause.   Notice the stillness, the peace.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  Thich Nhat Hanh