Posts Categorized: Life Lessons

World Mental Health Day

7 Tips for Mental Health Every Day

Take a break
Research shows taking even short breaks throughout your day increases motivation, clarity, focus, productivity and creativity.

Go Outside in Nature
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” John Muir

Move & Love your Body
Exercise regularly, nourish with healthy foods and try self massage. Give gratitude for your body.

Connect with a loved One
We are social mammals, wired to connect, and we need each other.

Ask for Help
Reach out and ask when you need a hand, an ear, a meal, a shoulder.  Yes, it takes strength and courage to ask for help.

Thank a Veteran or a Service Member Today
There are over 500,000 homeless veterans on our streets. And 22 veterans commit suicide each and every day.

Stay Curious & Ask Questions, keep an Open Heart and an Open Mind!

Alive

What makes you feel Alive?

Well, for Shanti (my shetland sheepdog), it’s standing in the pouring rain, under the rain gutter, lapping up the water and getting mud soaked. Shanti has a soft tissue leg injury and is on restrictions: no ball, no running, no jumping on the bed, no tug of war, no beach runs- all the things that normally make her happy. Yet, Shanti shows us that just cause you can’t do something great all the time, you can keep a good attitude and be ready for all joyful possibilities.

Research tells us that in order to counteract the negativity bias (which is hard wired in us), we need to hold our positive feelings for 20-30 seconds and really feel its effect.  I know Shanti fully enjoys her moments as she soaks in the fun!

We’ve been hard wired for survival for many thousands of years, ever since we had to run and hide from T-Rex and friends. This mammalian instinct is a holdover from the reptilian brain and creates a negativity bias. It warns us when there is alarm, danger, or discomfort, an important survival mechanism. However, it turns on with ANY perceived threat, runs on overdrive and revs up the sympathetic nervous system that causes fight, flight, or freeze. It lights up the brain and the experience is seared into long term memory. When we lived in an age of constant threat to physical survival it was valuable to react verses responding. Better to jump and run from the “snake” then to wait and see that it was just a stick. Even though most of us no longer live in constant threat to our physical survival our brains are still wired for it.

One of the best ways to counteract the negativity bias is to make an effort to notice the good, savor  its emotional quality, feel it in your body and hold it in your short term memory.

When we are having a great time with friends, enjoying a great meal or a walk on the beach, or experiencing whatever we love, these feelings seem to fly out the back door. They never make it into long term memory, so never interrupt and mitigate our  sympathetic nervous response. We must make a conscious effort, engaging the prefrontal cortex and holding awareness of good times in our bodies, hearts, visualizations and mind!

The other day I slid my paddle board out past the dock and into the mist and fog. Gliding past the cormorants, whose faces (I could see closely) were glowing orange around their bills. The smell of the salt air was embracing me. A lobster boat moved toward the sea. An osprey or sea hawk flew over my head.  I took this as a gift for seeing clearly and avoiding any obstacles in my way. I continued around two coves, past the open sea, into the harbor and under a bridge to spy on the eaglet that I have been watching for months. The fog cleared, the sun warmed my body. I allowed the peace and beauty of this morning to wash through me. I sat on my board and felt the warmth radiate and expand, letting it flow from my feet, legs, sacrum, belly, and heart to my crown. Inhaling the sweetness up the back of my spine and down the front of my body  I stayed with this feeling of aliveness!

What makes you feel alive and what will you savor today?

Happy International Women’s Day

Too short, too fat, too old, too black.

That’s what they told the great Sharon Jones!
It didn’t hold her back.

Here’s Sharon watch this

Got any exterior criticism holding you back?
Now’s the time to let it go and Shine on dear sister!

 

Lessons from the Iguana Spirit

Iguana

This is a picture of an iguana on a bridge I was needing to cross in Old San Juan. She reminded me to pause, be still and find contentment in the here and now.

Don’t Do it! Make those resolutions, that is. It’s not time yet. There is a better way!

On my vacation, I have seen iguanas many times and on my way home tonight there was a huge one sitting absolutely still in the middle of the road. I had to hold up a bunch of cars until a local man stopped to help, who knew how to get her to move. Then she bolted into the jungle.

The iguana is a satisfied and restful creature who knows how to bask in the magnificence of life! The iguana has clearly mastered the Art of Simplicity!

The iguana spirit has reminded me to be content, to stop, rest, have some ease, breathe, relax and bask in the sun, to flow with the rhythms of nature and be held by great mother earth. She reminds me to appreciate stillness.

Rhythm Class Sunset

I have been contemplating my ability to be content. I certainly fail here again and again, but the more I bring in awareness and gratitude the more I notice when I am content. I catch myself when I am wanting more, something else, the feeling of lack or not good enough, or the need to do more. I can stop, gain repose and rest in ease. I am good enough, life is wonderful and I have all I need when I rest in pure and simple awareness of the Great I Am!

For the timing of those resolutions, wait. Winter is the time to go inside, to rest, reflect, contemplate, to embrace the darkness and just be. Even the birds, insects, plants and animals require a time of rest. Can you relax and find more ease somewhere? Perhaps in your breath, body, actions, pace of life, criticism of self or others, or whatever gets in the way of just being and appreciating who you are, who you are with, or what you have?

Back to the iguana. She knows how to rest and she knows how to move, and quickly, when it’s time for action. Give yourself some time for repose and soon when the winter fades it will be time to take more action again. Synchronicity has it Valerie from Esparanza Beach Yoga asked during class “Where can you soften and do less?” Where can you do less, soften, ease up and be content? I wish you time for rest, reflection, looking deep within, rejuvenation and ease.

Aum Shanti, Peace, Paz