Help for Moving Through the Discomfort of Change

When all of this is over, or at least as we start a return to some sense of “normalcy,” my hope is that we have If there’s anything 2020 is teaching us, it’s that we are adaptable. And that we can make big changes in our lives that, 6 months ago, we may have believed were impossible.

You might have also noticed that this process of change can be really uncomfortable! It has to be. Because growth and change don’t happen in the comfort zone. 

But there are three key factors that can help us move through this uncomfortable space with more grace and ease than we otherwise might.

First (and probably foremost) is self-compassion. We may think that self-criticism motivates us to be better or do more. But self-compassion expert Kristin Neff says this is not the case. Self-criticism instead creates anxiety rather than progress. And that self-kindness is a more successful motivator and brings along with it other benefits such as improved life-satisfaction, more calm and more confidence.

Change is disruptive by nature, and it can put our ego and nervous system into a panic and cause us to make unhealthy decisions. So another key skill in making change more gracefully is knowing methods of calming ourselves and bringing ourselves back to our center. Methods may include anything from breath work and meditation, to spending time in nature or doing yoga. What’s important is that you know, and practice, what works for you on a consistent basis. 

And lastly, we must have community and connection. This was something I struggled with for a long time, believing I was better off doing things on my own and that personal growth was a “private” affair. Turns out we really don’t thrive that way. We need connection, because we are all connected. We need support because we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Some of us may need bigger communities, others may need smaller communities. But we all need to tap into our sense of belonging. And we also need to understand that we are essential to the communities we belong to. 

I’d love to hear what you think of these ideas. Is there one or more of these areas where you would like to improve? Or where you’d like more support?

These key factors are all a part of the work I do with clients and course members. If you’re curious about how I might be able to support you, let’s chat. You can schedule a complimentary call with me to talk about what you’re looking for in the next phase of your life, and we’ll discuss potential strategies to help you get there.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself, stay calm, and stay connected. We’ll all get through this and I’m hopeful that all the inner and outer work we’re being called to do this year is making us better humans.

Stabilize and Nourish

It’s been an intense week with lots of emotions. And also a lot of hope. 

As we continue to move through uncertainty and change, it’s important to focus on creating stability for your mind, body, and spirit, and to make sure you’re staying well-nourished.

Processing big changes and intense emotions can upset and weaken our digestion, so it’s important to keep our diet light and clean right now. This means avoiding processed foods, refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Instead, try to incorporate simple meals like soups and stews as well as herbal teas with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

I’ve been eating a lot of kitchari, Ayurveda’s incredibly nourishing and healing comfort food. Packed with nutrients and easy to digest, this amazing stew also helps detoxify the body.

Never had it? Check out my recipe. In this PDF I share 3 variations (stove top, slow cooker and instant pot). And if you have any questions about it, feel free to reach out to me. I respond to all my emails and I’m always happy to hear from you.

My Biggest Hope for All of Us…

When all of this is over, or at least as we start a return to some sense of “normalcy,” my hope is that we have allowed this experience to transform us in a positive way.

And according to Dave Gray (author of Liminal Thinking), times of crisis such as these can be the perfect opportunity, a threshold, or a doorway, for us to become more present to the reality of our lives. In these past weeks, we have been taken off our auto-pilot mode. Disrupted. And it’s an opportunity to look at where we are in our lives.

Are you taking care of yourself the way you’d like to?

Are you investing your time, energy & money in a way that serves your well-being?

Are you clear on what’s working or not working in your life?

Dave Gray suggests that this doorway is a chance to “get in touch with our ignorance.” In other words, asking ourselves: what have we turned a blind eye to? What have we tolerated? And what are the consequences if we continue to make that choice?  

They are big questions. Tough questions. But crucial if we are interested in creating more clarity and harmony in our lives, and even in the lives of those around us. 

Empower Yourself with This Simple Mindset Shift

It was beautiful here in Los Angeles this past weekend–and if the beaches hadn’t been closed, I would undoubtedly have been there. I admit it was frustrating. But I was able to shift myself out of frustration, as I have had to do many times during this pandemic, because of the concept in yoga philosophy that tells us: Whatever we focus on expands.

In other words, I could have focused my attention on my frustration which would have only increased my sense of feeling less in control of my life altogether. It would’ve created more stress and ultimately put me in a foul mood all weekend. Yuck. 

When I decided to shift my focus on what I CAN do and what I DO have control over (such as, I can sit in my backyard and enjoy the beautiful weather, I can connect with others through technology, I can cook and eat nourishing food) suddenly my weekend got a whole lot better.

That’s not to say any of us should pretend that difficult feelings aren’t there. Acknowledging frustration, sadness, and fear, and giving ourselves space to process these emotions is one of the most loving things we CAN do for ourselves right now. 

And when we focus our attention on the things we can control, like nourishing and taking care of ourselves, processing our emotions and practicing gratitude for what we do have, we put ourselves in a much better position to:

  1. Feel better and create a healthier environment for ourselves and whoever we may be sheltering with.
  2. Stay healthy and strong.
  3. Have a more balanced perspective on the whole situation which will help us endure whatever lies ahead.

The Key to Starting Any New Habit

I’ve been speaking with a number of my workshop attendees–can you guess what I hear about the most in these conversations?

1. I know the habits I have are not great.

AND

2. I want to change those habits, be healthier but I don’t know where to begin

OR

3. I’ve tried making some changes, and it works for a while but then I get thrown off track and struggle to get back to those bad habits.

Change is rarely easy. We’re often working against some deeply rooted patterns. But it’s not impossible to change those patterns.

Today I’m sharing my top tip for getting started on creating a new habit:

GET CLEAR ON WHY YOU’RE DOING IT. 
The first step I take with any client is clarifying why they want to make changes. Understanding what’s sparking this desire to change will keep you anchored to your motivation. It will help you get through the tough times on your journey and remind you why you started in the first place.

And we gotta go deep here. No one wants to lose weight simply because they want to fit in their pants. So it’s important to keep asking yourself “why” in order to get to your deeper desire. For instance, ask yourself: Why do I want to fit in my pants? Why is that important?

And whatever your response is to that question, ask again–well why is that important? I recommend asking yourself “why is that important” about 9 times.

There is always a much deeper reason underlying your desire to change that you may not have admitted to yourself before. Find out what it is. 

TIPS: As you ask yourself why, get out of your head. You’ll never find the answers there anyway. See if your responses can come from the heart or the belly. Allow the deeper desire to emerge from your whole self. Try not to edit what comes up. You may want to “free write” or talk into a recorder without worrying about anyone (especially you!) judging what comes out. 

Once you’ve got your BIG why answer, write it down. 

How powerful can this be? As an example, that client who thought she wanted to lose weight to fit in her pants? She made another discovery. What she really wanted, was to lose weight because she wanted to have more energy to spend time/play with her kids, and to show them that they can do things they set their minds to.

A little more powerful than pants right? And by the way, she’s lost almost 30 pounds.

Address Your Stress with These Two Tips

For those of us in California, our stay at home order, unsurprisingly, was extended another month. Eesh.

Regardless of where you live, the restrictions and changes we’ve experienced over the past month have been a LOT to process emotionally. To various extents, we’re all experiencing more stress in our lives. And it’s important that we address this added stress and counter it with healthy activities.

And yet, sometimes when we’re feeling stressed, it’s hard to think of anything but the stress.

We forget that we already know so many ways to help ourselves.

So here’s a couple of recommendations I’ve made to my clients, and advice I am following myself!

1. Keep a list. Take a moment and write a list of healthy activities that help you reduce or manage your stress levels. Write everything down you can think of that makes you feel better without compromising your health (in other words, keep activities and substances off this list that aren’t boosting your health or immune system).  

Keep this list handy, and when you have time or urgently need to de-stress, take it out, pick one activity on the list and do it.

TIP: Try not to get into your head too much about which one to do. Pick the one that caught your eye first. Or you might even decide before feeling stressed which activity you’ll do when you are feeling stressed. Either way, avoid paralysis by over-analysis!

2. Make de-stressing a daily habit. Commit to doing one or more of these stress-reducing activities every single day. Rather than doing these ONLY when you’re super stressed out, designate a particular time of day to de-stress daily. Not only will this help you create a good habit, but it will also help you build resilience to stress.  

TIP: Try doing your daily stress-reducing activity with a partner. This helps you both be accountable to each other.

Top 3 Tips for Reducing Stay-at-Home Restlessness and Anxiety

We made it through another week. And there’s no doubt some of us are starting to feel a restless and/or anxious (if you weren’t already!). I know I’ve experienced a wave or two of this, especially over the weekend when I’m missing my friends or family, or a trip to the beach or a movie theater.

I thought I’d share what’s helping me get through these disquieting waves.

1) Go for a walk. Something about being outside and moving the body has such a tremendous effect on my mood. I may even throw some sprinting in there to work out some of that restless energy. A good stretch afterward is the icing on this delicious cake.

2) Do a Grounding Meditation. There are probably a million meditations out there referred to as “grounding.” Check your favorite app or YouTube and find one that works for you. This practice helps me to come back to my whole self, where I am reminded that it’s ok to feel restless and nervous. This is part of the experience of life right now. BUT that’s not the whole of it. It’s also offering an opportunity to be appreciative for what I have. And to see possibilities I may not have seen before.

3) Connect with someone. Anxiety deepens our sense of isolation. So the perfect antidote is to connect. Whether it’s getting a hug from my husband or checking in on a friend with a text or call, connection reminds me that I’m not in this alone. I cannot help but shift out of my own anxious thoughts and into relief and compassion when this happens. Try it!

What healthy activities are helping you through this time?

Ayurveda’s Holistic Approach to Immunity: Three Vital Practices to Support and Protect Your Health

With all the concerns about the spread of coronavirus, I’m seeing a lot of helpful tips about washing hands, not touching your face, not traveling unless it’s necessary, etc. 

What I’ve found missing from this prescription, however, is attention to how our minds and emotions are inextricably linked with our immune system.

Did you know that patterns of pessimism, worry, fearfulness, resentment or anger, for example, create a stress pattern in the body which depletes the immune system? 

Of course, we can’t feel joyful and optimistic in every moment, but if your tendency is to worry, think the worst, or you find yourself currently holding a grudge or harboring anger, now is a great time to take actions to create a new pattern (perhaps the coronavirus is  nature’s way of insisting we do so).

Here are 3 ways you can create new and more positive patterns for your mental and emotional well-being, and ultimately strengthen your immunity. 

1. Have a daily gratitude practice. Numerous studies have shown that taking time each day to give gratitude for what we have has profound effects on all aspects of our health: physical, mental and emotional.

To start your own practice, choose a specific time of day (I like to do mine every night before I go to bed), and think of at least one thing you’re feeling grateful for that day. It can be ANYTHING! Then allow yourself to really feel how into this gratitude. Be with this feeling for at least a full 10 seconds. Notice how it feels in your body. Sweet, you’re done for the day.


If you want more tips on how to create your gratitude practice, or if you struggle with creating/maintaining a practice, check out the tips and practices in the Gratitude section of my free online wellness community, THRIVE HIVE. We dedicated a whole month to exploring Gratitude practices. Check it out, it’s free!

2. Develop your sense of self-compassion. Our culture breeds a sense of I-am-not-enoughness among us, and it leads many people to some seriously negative self-talk. Often this behavior is mistaken as a form of self-discipline. But as Kristin Neff points out in her book Self-Compassion, this kind of self-criticism actually triggers the flight or fight response in the nervous system. In other words, our own negativity towards ourselves is seen as a threat! As a result, stress hormones increase in the body, as well as blood pressure and adrenaline, which will deplete the body’s ability to respond to another threat like, you guessed it, coronavirus. 

So where to begin with developing this practice of self-compassion? Awareness is key. Notice how you talk to yourself. Would you say those things to a friend? If not, ask yourself, what would you say to them? Connect with your compassion and then offer those same words of care to yourself. And remember, this is a new skill you’re developing. Be patient and kind to yourself as you work on it. 


3. Have a daily breath or meditation practice.  It’s not news that breath and meditation are some of the best tools for surviving and thriving in our fast-paced culture. In fact, I’d say these tools are essential. Particularly because of their effects on calming the nervous system, reducing stress, and consequently strengthening our ability to fight pathogens like the coronavirus.

And if the word “meditation” causes you anxiety, don’t sweat it. Start instead with a simple daily breath practice. Here’s how:

First, decide on a good time of day to set aside one-two minutes for your practice. This may take a few tries to find a time that works best for you. Then set a time for one minute (you can increase this time as you build your practice). During this minute, take some slow, deeper breaths. Keep your attention on your breath as you do this. Notice the sensation of the breath as it moves in and out of the body. Notice the parts of your body that move as you breathe. If your mind wanders, that’s ok. Just gently bring it back to your breath.

When the timer goes off, take a moment to notice how you feel and appreciate this moment you gave to yourself for healing and restoring the body, mind and spirit. And you’re done. 

Want more tips on starting a breath practice, or want to learn different breath techniques? check out the tips and practices in the Breath Practices section of my free online wellness community, THRIVE HIVE. We dedicated a whole month to exploring Breath Practices. Check it out, it’s free!

Wishing you resilient health and ease this spring and all your days!

Why I LOVE Ayurveda: Reason #5

REASON #5: Ayurveda’s ancient wisdom stands the test of time.

Has Ayurveda caught your eye yet? It has certainly been getting a lot of attention from modern science. And Ayurveda-lovers like me are thrilled to see that researchers are now recognizing how the principles and practices of this ancient tradition are incredibly relevant and healing to the imbalances and diseases of modern living.

For example, just last year the Nobel Prize in Medicine went to three doctors for their studies on the effects of the circadian clock on our health and wellness. But Ayurveda has known this for thousands of years!

Dinacharya, or daily rituals, have been an essential part of Ayurveda’s prescription for health on all levels. These rituals emphasize the significance of aligning our activities, such as eating, sleeping, meditating and exercising, with what is referred to as the dosha clock in Ayurveda. This clock demonstrates that different times of the day are governed by the different doshas or bio-energies. And a fundamental teaching of Ayurveda is that if we align our activities with these energies, we support our bodies’ ability to heal and thrive. This is effectively the same conclusion these Nobel Prize-winning doctors found regarding the influence of the circadian clock on the body.

Modern research has also found several other Ayurvedic practices to be of great benefit to modern ailments, including the use of turmeric and other plants and foods for healing, abhyanga or self-oiling, and neti pots and nasya oil to increase immunity, not to mention the well-known benefits of yoga and meditation, which are part and parcel to the Ayurvedic lifestyle.

And it seems every month I’m hearing about another study that validates what the Ayurvedic sages learned centuries ago. Follow me on my Facebook page for postings on these subjects including links to articles and podcasts.


Ready to learn how these ancient practices can heal your modern woes?

Sign up TODAY!! Early  Bird Pricing Ends This Week!

workshop1

RECLAIM YOUR HEALTH + THRIVE WITH AYURVEDA

Saturday, March 24th, 2018:

2pm – 4pm

Square One Yoga, San Leandro

 

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest holistic healing system and is considered Yoga’s “sister science.” Though shunned for many years, modern science now recognizes the incredible efficacy of Ayurvedic practices in healing disease and imbalances of the modern world.

In this workshop, we’ll explore the nature of this life-transforming tradition, and discover how the principles of Ayurveda teach us to awaken our natural ability to self-heal and bring benefit to our communities, all living creatures and the planet.

All workshop participants will be offered a free 15 minute Ayurvedic phone consultation by appointment after workshop.

Cost: $30 for members of Square One, $35 for non-members.

$5 off if you register by 3/17/18.

Be sure to save your spot and register here.

Why I LOVE Ayurveda: Reason #4

ayu4

REASON #4: Ayurveda reminds us of our deep connection to our eco-system and community.

When Ayurveda was developed over 5,000 years ago in India, the concepts of “going green,” being “eco-friendly” or “socially conscious” were unknown. The Ayurvedic sages lived in attunement with nature and thus were already all of these things.

In our consumerist culture, however, we are out of sync with the natural world, and thus out of sync with our own true nature.This has led to disease in our bodies, minds, spirits and environment. Just take a look at the increasing numbers of auto-immune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and digestive disorders, to name a few.

Is there a correlation between these rising numbers of disease and disorders and the declining health of our planet?

Some would say yes, and I would agree with them. What I’ve learned and experienced from Ayurveda, is that when we align with the principles and rhythms of nature, we learn how to take care of ourselves, take care of each other and the planet. We begin to understand that our relationships to each other and to earth are interdependent and must be nurtured so that we can all enjoy good health.

Because Ayurveda is based in nature, its practices inherently honor and revere the eco-system that keeps us alive. And its principles recognize and appreciate the fundamental abundance and interconnectedness in all life.

By adopting Ayurveda’s natural practices and principles into our daily lives, we find a more balanced way of living in our bodies, with each other and on this beautiful planet. And I believe if we, both humans and the planet, are to thrive for many more centuries, this ancient tradition, must be the wave of the future.


Ready to learn how you can change your health and the planet’s? Join me for my upcoming workshop on Ayurveda.

workshop1

RECLAIM YOUR HEALTH + THRIVE WITH AYURVEDA

Saturday, March 24th, 2018:

2pm – 4pm

Square One Yoga, San Leandro

 

Ayurveda is the world’s oldest holistic healing system and is considered Yoga’s “sister science.” Though shunned for many years, modern science now recognizes the incredible efficacy of Ayurvedic practices in healing disease and imbalances of the modern world.

In this workshop, we’ll explore the nature of this life-transforming tradition, and discover how the principles of Ayurveda teach us to awaken our natural ability to self-heal and bring benefit to our communities, all living creatures and the planet.

All workshop participants will be offered a free 15 minute Ayurvedic phone consultation by appointment after workshop.

Cost: $30 for members of Square One, $35 for non-members.

$5 off if you register by 3/17/18.

Be sure to save your spot and register here.