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Posts Tagged “Dr Kate”

How Your EGO Leads You to Your Essence

How Your EGO Leads You to Your Essence

When it comes to the “true self”, one fixed point for contemplation is the relationship between your ego your essence. The terms “true self,” “ego,” and “essence” are broad and have many associations attached to them. So, for this week’s newsletter, I’m going to talk about how you can make your ego work for you as a tool to help you fully unearth your true self. 

We need to have a working connection with our true self to feel a sense of success and fulfillment. Put another way, it’s only through our connection with our true self that we’re able to feel satisfied by the positive outcomes of our efforts.

Our ego is both an obstacle and an ally. On one hand, if our ego runs a-mock and rules every decision we make, it would be impossible to experience our true self. On the other hand, our ability to fully access and express our true self emerges with the help of our ego.

Personal development work requires that you become aware of your ego and your true self. Further, this work teaches you how to use the many aspects of who you are in a productive way.

There are several common problems that people encounter along their path of personal development. The main problem is that – once we realize that we’ve previously been totally consume by our ego – we forget that we’re actually part of something much greater than ourselves.

As Eva Perakkos says:

    “Even those of you who have, for years, formed a concept of the real self, of the creative substance that enlivens every human being, forget in ninety-five percent of your daily lives that this creative being lives and moves in you and you live and move in it. You forget its existence. You do not reach for its wisdom. You stake all your reliance on your limited outer ego self. You neglect to open yourself for the deeper self’s truth and feelings. You go blithely ahead as though there really were nothing else but your conscious mind, your ego self with its immediately accessible thinking processes and will force.”

If she’s right and we do indeed forget to draw on the infinite richness always ever-present outside ourselves, what can we do to change this? How can we live from our true self more fully? How can we connect to our true self so that we can create richer and fuller lives?

I propose that we look at the ego as if it were a tool. Think of it this way: if I can use a hammer, then it can serve me. If I think I’m a hammer, then I will be used by something else to serve some other end (and most likely hit up against something quite hard in the process.)

The only way that we can stay conscious of our ego is to employ it.

Again Eva Perrakos puts it very well:

    “The ego must know that it is only a servant to the greater being within. Its main function is to deliberately seek contact with the greater self within. It must know its position, it must know that its strength, potentiality, and function is to decide to seek contact, to request help from the greater self, to establish contact permanently with it. Moreover, the ego’s task is to discover the obstructions that lie between it and the greater self. Here, too, its task is limited. The realization always comes from within, from the real self, but it comes as a response to the ego’s wish to comprehend and to change falseness, destructiveness, and error.”

Here’s the catch! If you’re not careful, you can easily fall under the spell of your ego and confuse it with your true self. 

You can’t get rid of your ego, and you can’t ignore it either. And if you stop using it to help draw out your true self, you’re likely to fall under its illusion.

So. How can you make your ego work for you? Well. You can draw on the will of your ego to focus yourself on removing obstacles to your true self. You can also work on strengthening the lived experience of your true self so that it becomes less and less of a concept and more and more of an indelible part of your every-day experience.

Eva:

    “The intellectual acceptance of the real self as a philosophical precept will not alleviate [the problems] because it cannot give a sense of reality and true experience of the real self. This requires more. It requires an actualization of the faculties of the real self.”

What this means is that you’ve got to train your ego to sense and support the expression of your true self. The truth is that you really can feel into your true self. To do this, you need to use your ego to plug into the wants, needs and full expression of your deeper self and remove the obstacles to it along the way. All the while, keep your eye on your ego so that you do not fall under its spell.

Awareness, of all kinds, is not the end of the road. Rather, it’s part of a cycle. Once we have an awareness we need to learn how to apply it, live it, work with it.

These 10 Tips Will Make YOU a Self Care Whiz

These 10 Tips Will Make YOU a Self Care Whiz

After years of working my tail off, I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself one of two things was going to happen. Either I was going to compromise my health or I was going to compromise my results.

Self care became my battle cry. Over time, I learned the undeniable merits of self-care. I also came to understand that practicing self-care can sometimes be difficult to fit into a busy day-to-day schedule. When I made my practice of self-care a priority, both my health and my ability to get better results increased. This was a win-win for my life.

My strongest suggestion to help you be your personal best is: Self Care, Self Care, Self Care!

Self Care is an investment in your personal resources. Whether the achievement of your goals requires a lot or a little of your resources, you need to take care of your most important tool – your self.

Here is a list of 10 self care techniques you can use to be your personal best.

    1. Move Your Body + Feed Your Body: Movement and nutrition are essential to self care. Learn to lovingly and joyfully move your body. Dance, do yoga, stretch, walk or engage in more vigorous exercise. Feed yourself everything your body needs to be healthy. If you’re not sure what this is, start by drinking more water and eating more greens.
    2. Spent Time in Nature and with Animals: Both of these experiences have a positive effect on our overall wellbeing. They help us de-stress and relax. Animal’s playful and loving ways do wonders for our moods. And taking a walk in the woods can help us feel connected to the larger world. If you can’t get outside, get a plant, or two or three.
    3. Unplug and Watch Less TV: We’re wired 24/7 these days. We wake up and almost immediately look at our smartphone or TV. If you haven’t already put yourself on a technology diet, I’d suggest doing so. Limiting the amount of time you spend looking at screens can have a fabulous effect on your quality of life.
    4. Be Less Negative and Spend Less Time Around Negative People: It takes two to tango. If you’re in a negative mindset, then chances are the people around you are too.  Take some time to work on your mindset first. Bring more positivity into the way you think and speak. Then choose to be around people who reflect your new mindset, whether they are new acquaintances or not.
    5. Let Go of Grudges: Nothing pulls your wellbeing down more than un-cleared anger and resentment towards others. The only person suffering from your negative thinking is you. People can be short-sighted and can sometimes make mistakes. Yet, holding onto the mistakes of others is the biggest mistake of all.
    6. Spend Time with Awesome Friends: Spending time with people you love and doing fun things with them –  especially things that include lots of laughter –  is a wonderful way to relax and connect two important aspects of self care.
    7. Mental Hygiene: Obsessive thinking and worry are so commonplace that people think it’s normal to act and feel these ways. While common for sure, these are not healthy patterns. Learn to stop yourself when your worry or catastrophic thinking gets the better of you. Simply say stop and focus your mind on something more pleasant or productive.
    8. Make A Difference: Being of service is a powerful way to bring good feeling and wellbeing into your life. Service to others gives us a sense of purpose in the world. So, take a weekend to volunteer at a food bank, community garden or your local Habitat for Humanity. You’ll put some good juju in the world.
    9. Emotional Hygiene: Sometimes you just need to tend to your emotional backlog. If you have a lot of built up emotion or if you’ve been dealing with a lot of stress, the best self care might actually be to throw a fit. Lie down on your bed and kick and hit the mattress with your arms and legs. Scream if it feels right. You’ll feel like a million bucks afterwards.
    10. Gratitude: Nothing changes your attitude like gratitude. Take a moment every day to write or state at least three things that you’re grateful for. So many of us have so much to be thankful for. Remember this is a form of self care.

Give a Damn. Make a Difference.
Dr. Kate Siner

5 Small Ways You Can Get Real Happy

5 Small Ways You Can Get Real Happy

Change can be a great thing. A new routine, or a new perspective, can really revitalize your life and sense of well-being. But what about the times when change presents a challenge? How can you build up your energy and joy when changes in your life leave you feeling drained?

For this week’s newsletter, I’m going to talk about how you can bolster your happiness in your everyday life. Because, the truth is that when you’re connected to your sense of joy, you’re better equipped to work with change when it comes your way.

We all too often forget that happiness takes practice. The good news is that small things can make a big impact on your sense of well-being.

Here are 5 small things you can do to cultivate happiness in your day-to-day life, no matter what comes your way.

1. Start Positive

    The first few moments of your day can set the tone for the rest of it.  So, start each morning with a quiet moment, an affirmation, a journal entry or any other activity that helps you tune into your feelings and intentions for your day.

2. Look for It

    What you focus on gets stronger.  Unfortunately, we often focus on what makes us unhappy rather than what brings us joy.  Make an effort to recognize what’s going well in your day and be present to the things you enjoy.

3. Get Clear On What Makes You Happy

    This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s actually something we often overlook. What brings you the most pleasure and happiness?  Time alone or time with others?  A home-cooked meal or take-out and a movie? Becoming conscious of the things you most enjoy means that you will choose them more often.

4. Say “Thank You”

    To yourself, your partner, your child or co-worker.  Make a point to express your gratitude for what’s working in your life.  Showing your appreciation will immediately make you and the person you’re thanking feel more positive.  And, by expressing gratitude for the things the people around you do, you reinforce the positive behavior as well as the positive feeling.

5. Slow Down

    Slow down and savor the good parts of your life.  Pay attention when you’re eating something delicious. Chose to really listen to your friend while they’re talking.  Take the time to notice what’s around you on your daily walk or drive. The more you can be present with your 5 senses to what you’re experiencing, the better.

Life is always a mix of things.  No matter how bad a day seems, there’s always something in it that’s positive.  Use the list above to help you focus in on the good that’s present in life’s simple, daily events. These simple things can add up quick and drastically increase your happiness.

Woah! 3 Surprising Ways You Can Ease into 2016

Woah! 3 Surprising Ways You Can Ease into 2016

In our culture, we have access to so much that we often lose sight of how luck we really are. We sacrifice our joy and we obscure our enjoyment along our quest to do or have more. We amass culture and commodities, yet, we have no time and sometimes no ability to appreciate them.

There are things that we can do to change this and these things are simpler than you’d expect.

1. Slooooow Things Down

    Symbolically, winter is the season of endings. Shorter days and colder weather – particularly in my New England hometown – drive people inward, both into their homes and into themselves.
    We can learn something from this.
    Over the holidays, it’s custom to run from event to event, over-spend on gifts, and wrap things up for the year. These customs leave no time for us to pause or reflect. Instead, we find ourselves repeating the same-old-same-old, year upon year. No where in the cycle of our year are we cued to pause and take stock. Yet, what would happen if we did stop to ask ourselves: “Am I doing what I want to do?”
    Taking time to reflect and gain perspective is an important part of our every day – and is an essential part of our every year.
    I invite you to try this out. Ask yourself: “What might be gained if I set aside some time in the next few weeks to pause and reflect?” “What is truly important to me?” And “What might happen if I made those things central to my plan for 2016?”

2. Pay Attention to What You Really Love

    Many years ago, I read a book about clearing clutter. It said: “If you don’t love it, get rid of it.” That made a lot of sense to me at the time and I have since applied this idea to my life over and over again.
    Clutter doesn’t just build up in our closets – it also builds up in our relationships, our work environments, and even in our heads and hearts. We have a lot of choice about the clutter that we let persist in our lives. However, we tend to act as if we don’t.
    So ask yourself: “Where is the clutter in my life?” “In which parts of my life am I squirreling away debris or sweeping things under the rug?” “Where am I just going through the motions?”
    If you don’t love it, maybe it’s time to let it go. Give yourself the gift of uncluttered head-space, heart-space and home-space.

3. Recognize that Trade-Offs Aren’t Such a Bad Thing

    In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown wrote that a person who is an “Essentialist” recognizes there are trade-offs in life, and so they make deliberate decisions. “Non-essentialists,” on the other hand, try to do it all. Because of this, they often miss out on more of what life has to offer.
    Those are some wise words.
    This tends to happen A LOT this time of year. Many of us try to shoehorn time with family and friends into a tight and frenzied holiday season. In our over-packed lives, we barely have space time for ourselves, never mind spare time for others. Because of this, we can end up feeling resentful about spending time with the people we truly want to see. If that’s not getting things backwards, I’m not sure what is.
    The hard truth for many of us is that we need to accept that we cannot do it all.
    When we accept this, we begin to look at our lives and decide what is MOST important to us and organize our priorities accordingly. Knowing our priorities helps us to make the best possible choices. And these are the choices that bring us to where we truly want to go.
    So ask yourself: What are you priorities for the upcoming year? How are you going to keep them at the front of your mind?
The Power to Change the World Really Does Belong to You

The Power to Change the World Really Does Belong to You

It’s easy to feel disempowered when reading the news, driving down the street, or simply moving through life.  We read about the recent terrorist attack in Paris. We get stuck in traffic next to a driver who yells profanely at the person who cut him off. We find out that a family member became sick. And we slowly emotionally withdraw from the world around us.

Throughout our lives, we experience so many negative things that it can seem impossible that our actions could make a positive difference or have a lasting impact on this ever-changing world. We ask ourselves: how can one person change the world – how can I stop hatred, face adversity, and create social equity? When we don’t come up with an answer, we resign ourselves to the “fact” of negativity. We stop ourselves from seeking solution.

The hard truth is, though, that apathy is noxious. Giving up in the face of adversity leaves us feeling like a half a person.

Yet – as many brilliant leaders have shown us – you can’t fight your way to a better world. When we use anger and angst to resolve a problem we only create a new problem or compound the old one.

We need different tools to create the change we desire. These tools are love, truth and compassion. They make up a set of holistic and healing approaches to adversity that transforms the world around us. The best part is that these tools have always been with us.

I believe that the entire world benefits when you choose to build your life with these tools. Bringing love, compassion and truth to each situation you face takes practice, though. And this is why I developed my LifeWork Virtual Program – which offers weekly practices that help you cultivate awareness and develop skills that make your life easier and more rewarding.

These practices are instrumental in creating positive change in the world around us. For this week’s article, I’m going to talk about three of these practices today.

Love

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Buddha

    Love is the most powerful, world-changing tool we have. I’m fully aware of how Pollyanna this sounds. My challenge to you, though, is: try it! Get your heart-broken, feel disrespected, lose something you really cherish and see how quickly you can move on from the negativity you feel into LOVE. It takes a high degree of awareness and sophistication to experience our negativity and move beyond it into a place of love. Anyone who has walked this path knows that this is the way of a REAL bad-ass.
    The first thing we need to do is cultivate love inside ourselves. To do this we need to hunt down the barriers to love that live within us more ferociously than we hunt down barriers to love in the world outside us.
    This does not mean that we turn hatred toward these parts of ourselves. It means we see them, accept them and let them go.

Truth

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Jesus Christ

    Truthfulness is a time-honored and respected trait. To be truthful is to be honest and trustworthy. It requires a commitment to speaking and acknowledging the truth, and to acting with integrity. When we have our truth we also have our respect and love.
    While philosophically there are many types of truth, the truth I’m talking about here has a dynamic holism that is much more easily experienced than written about.
    There is a paradox around truth, though, and it’s this:  truth does not make anything untrue. Whenever you negate something, there is a lie present. Truthfulness allows for multiple perspectives in a way that honors each of those perspectives.
    One very common example of this is that if you make yourself wrong you’re not living your truth – nor are you allowing others to live theirs.

Compassion

“No man is a true believer unless he desireth for his brother that which he desireth for himself.” Muhammad

    To be compassionate is to open your heart to the suffering of others. Compassion, to me, is a healing action. When we offer compassion to ourselves or others we are, in fact, healing ourselves or others. One of the best ways to practice compassion is to tend to our own pain and suffering. Without a doubt, one thing we gain from our own hardship is an ability to give love to others while they experience hardship of their own.
    Still, sometimes we might find ourselves feeling closed off or judgmental about others who are in a difficult spot. We can feel wronged and because of this feel justified in wanting understanding from the other person. When we do this, we withhold our compassion and do not give our understanding to the person we feel wronged us.
    If you want to have an impact on the world,  each time you feel wronged stop and take a moment to understand the other person’s perspective.

While none of these skills are easy, they are all quite simple and in the reach of every single one of us all the time. We don’t need to start a movement or become a politician to have an impact. We only need to focus on being a better person and sharing this with the world.

I will leave you with this quote from Rumi. “Listen with the ears of tolerance. See through the eyes of compassion. Speak with the Language of love.”

The Super Surprising Key to a Meaningful Life

The Super Surprising Key to a Meaningful Life

When life’s choices and challenges come our way, we easily get distracted and stop pursuing our goals. When we do this, we lose our mojo and feel purposeless or disenchanted with life.

I’ve talked about how clarity around your vision, mission, and values helps you identify what you want to do and why you want to do it. And I’ve talked about how setting goals and reframing obstacles are essential practices for creating a meaningful life. Yet, today, I’d like to look at this another way.

While personal development tools are vital to transforming life challenges into meaning-making experiences, when you think of yourself as your “personal brand” you’re able to make better decisions and make your challenges more fruitful.

Establishing a Personal Brand

There’s a lot of talk about “personal brand” in business. “Personal brand” refers to the practice of marketing yourself, your career, and your history as a brand. It’s often used as a method to increase your hire-ability or to grow your business. However, it’s as important to consider our “personal brand” for our private lives as well. In truth – if I had it my way, there would be a lot more similarity and synergy between people’s work life and their personal life.

You’re able to make choices, transform obstacles and create a sense of purpose when you have a clear sense of who you are and what you can and can’t do. This is not to pidgeon-hole you into a fixed personality or role. Rather, when you know who you are and what you can do, you’re able to use that information to guide you towards the achievement of your goals.

I would like you to ask yourself the following questions. These are taken from Tom Collinger’s presentation on branding for leaders. I highly suggest spending some time with each one and write down your answers. Consider these questions from as many angles as you can think of: personal, emotional, relational, work, and more.

What are you good at?

What are you not good at?

What do you like?

What do you not like?

These very simple questions begin to show you dimensions of who you are. They also give you crucial input on what you contribute to the world around you and what you need to feel fulfilled. So, for example, if ¾ of your life is taken up by things that you don’t like – even if you’re good at doing them – you will not be very happy.

Things that you’re not good at can be things you avoid doing or things you know you need to get help with. They can also be things that you need to practice and get better at.

The most important thing these questions point to is your skill-set. When you have a strong sense about what you’re able to do, you can begin to build out your value. If you’ve ever suffered from not liking yourself, critical thinking, or worrying about the future, then chances are you’d benefit from knowing your value.

When we know our value we’re able to adeptly work with whatever life throws our way. We feel more confident and more prepared. We make decisions that work for us and therefore feel better about our lives. We know where we “fit” in the scheme of things and can enjoy a sense of significance.

5 Myths About Life Purpose It’s Time to Let Go of

5 Myths About Life Purpose It’s Time to Let Go of

Day-in and day-out, I talk to people who want to find their life purpose.

I make a point to pay close attention to what my clients, associates and colleagues say as they describe the purpose-driven life they seek to live. As I see it, my job is not simply to respond to what I hear, but rather to figure out how I can help those around me get what they really need to feel happier, healthier and more successful.

When people talk about finding their purpose they often also talk about identifying their passion. They want to have a sense of meaning in their life. They want to make a contribution.

I plan to get into great detail on what life purpose is REALLY all about and how to FULLY LIVE a purpose-driven life in my upcoming Morning Mindset series. So, if you’re in the midst of finding your life purpose, this series is for you! Feel free to sign up here and I will contact you as soon as it’s ready to go!

5 Myths About Life Purpose That It’s Time To Let Go Of

Myth #1 Your Life Purpose is Your Vocation

    This is one of the mistaken ideas that I tackle first when I talk to someone who wants to find their life purpose. Why is this myth about life purpose so pervasive? I think it’s because we live in an increasingly work-centric society that doesn’t teach us that there is a difference between our life purpose and our work. They are, in fact, two totally distinct things.
    Truth be told, it’s absolutely possible to integrate your life purpose into your work. HOWEVER, when people feel stuck and struggle to identify their purpose it’s often because they’ve come to think of their career as the place in which they’ll find their purpose. Or, it’s the reverse. In this scenario, people try to find their life purpose through the process of developing their career and meet with tremendous frustration. Either way it just does not work.

Solution #1: Ask yourself: “Am I trying to trying to figure out my life purpose or my next career move?” Allow yourself the space to see your life purpose and your career as separate things.

Myth #2 Your Life Purpose Can Only Be One Thing

    Because people often conflate their career with their life purpose, they often think that their purpose is one specific thing.
    As kids, when we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up, we tend to say things like: “I want to be a fireman” or “I want to be a ballerina.” As adults, when we think about life-purpose, we mistakenly hyper-focus on a single outcome the same way we did when we were young. But this is not how things really work. Instead, once you begin to feel into what a purpose-driven life might look like, a number of options often emerge and many of them will be equally satisfying.

Solution #2 Don’t try and narrow things down too soon. Ask yourself why an idea appeals to you rather than if it’s the right idea or not.

Myth #3 You Must Find Your Life Purpose Before You Start Living It

    Our life purpose is intimately connected to what we love most. This means that when we start doing what we love we take our first steps along the path towards our purpose. This also means that we don’t need to wait to live a purpose-driven life. All we need to do is to determine what we love and do it as often as possible.

Solution #3 Do what you love to do. Discover more things you love to do. And make time to reflect.

Myth #4 Only a Fortunate Few Live Their Life Purpose

    This is a tricky myth. On the one hand, a fortunate few actually do have a career that successfully integrates their life purpose. On the other hand, I’m not sure if these people are particularly fortunate. It can be overwhelming to tie up your livelihood so closely to your passion.
    When we recognize that our life purpose is a combination of what we most care about, what we love to do, and what we value, it becomes clear that we always have the option to live our life purpose. It’s not necessary to fit our purpose into our career. Rather, it’s necessary that we fit our purpose into our lives.

Solution  #4 Figure out what you care most about, what you love most to do, and what you value the most and proceed from there.

Myth #5 You Should Be Able to Figure It Out On Your Own

    It seems like common sense that WE ALONE should be able to figure out our life purpose. Right? It’s ours after all.
    But, sometimes we have a difficult time seeing it BECAUSE it’s so closely connected to who we are. When people come to me looking to find their life purpose, I often give them a series of exercises. I ask them to answer a set of questions and I tell them not to spend much time worrying about the answers. Instead, I prompt them to write out the first thing that comes to their mind and send me what they wrote. When I reflect back my synthesis of my clients answers, a funny thing happens. More often than not clients have an Eureka moment where they finally see what their purpose is all about.

Solution #5 Find the support you need! Sometimes you need outside eyes to see to help you see within yourself.

So, if you’ve been coming up empty as you look for your life purpose, it’s time to de-mystify your thinking and try on these solutions. Most important, though, is to start with what you LOVE.

How YOU Can Break the Spell of Fear

How YOU Can Break the Spell of Fear

Recently, I was asked in an interview: do you have any advice for people who struggle with fear?

The interviewer pointed out that everyone struggles with fear as they move towards what they really want.

And I have to agree. Whether it’s a fear that stops us in our tracks or a low-level feeling of anxiety, our ability to deal with fear can make or break us.

So, for this week’s article I’d like to start a conversation about what fear is. At it’s most basic level, fear is a biological response. When we feel afraid, certain chemicals flood our brain and, in turn, motivate our behavior. When we’re able to understand our fear at a cellular and bodily level, we’re better equipped to manage it’s effect on our everyday lives.

If you struggle with fear, I highly recommend that you check the book, Rewire Your Anxious Brain. It’s one of the resources I used for this newsletter.

How You Can Break the Spell of Fear

Let’s be clear here – fear is a response to an actual threat. Anxiety is a response to an assumed or possible threat. So, check in with your feelings. If you’re truly afraid, listen to your body. Maybe you’re headed in the wrong direction or maybe you need to take extra measures to protect yourself. If you’re anxious, this is a different story.

Skills that help us deal with anxiety most often effect the frontal cortex of our brains. This is important. When we change the way we think about a given situation, we can feel more confident and less fearful. Recently, neuroscientists have concluded that the amygdala – an almond sized part of our brain involved with our experience of our emotions – plays a vital role in the way we respond to our environment. And because of this, new approaches to working with fear are emerging.

The amygdala causes a very quick physical response to certain stimuli. It drives you to be hyper-attentive to your surroundings and provokes a fearful response when it sees a potential threat. This has a powerful effect on our feelings of anxiety. Yet, it should be noted that the amygdala has helped us survive throughout time by attuning us to potential danger.

However, the amygdala can sometimes produce unwanted symptoms. The most noticeable of these being panic attacks. The chemicals released by the amygdala influence the way our brain works. When your amygdala is hyper-active, you may experience a feeling of chronic anxiety and changes to the way you think.

So, if you’re feeling stuck and unable to move forward in your life or business, if you find all sorts of reasons not to do things you know you should do, if you overwork yourself to the point of ineffectiveness, or if your avoid important steps forward, you’d benefit from cultivating a greater understanding of how your body’s response to anxiety might stymie your efforts towards success.

There are two main components to clearing up this primal fight, flight or freeze response. The first is learning to relax the body and the second is building new neural pathways around certain stimuli.

Relaxation can take the form of deep breathing and meditation. This is best done on a daily basis. Research has shown that a meditation practice of 15 minutes a day can provide quick, measurable and positive change for those suffering with anxiety. When you learn to relax the body and quiet your mind, you’re able to reverse the effects of an activated amygdala. This process supports our efforts to change our thinking when we’re triggered by things that happen in our personal or professional lives.

Building new neural pathways can include efforts to eliminate established pathways that lead to anxious thinking, to train the body to have a different response when exposed to a triggering stimulus, and to create a positive connection to a trigger rather than a negative one.

Eliminating the connection between a trigger and an emotional reaction is the purpose of therapies such as EMDR and EFT. Both therapeutic modes work to create new associations in the brain. To do this, a therapist will ask a patient to recall something that triggers them. Then the therapist provides the patient with an alternate stimulus to break the connection between that stimulus and the anxiety response.

Peter Levine is responsible for much innovation and growth in our understanding about how anxiety can be treated somatically. Levine believes that traumas are locked in the body and may not be available to the conscious mind. This means that the process to free ourselves from anxiety begins when we recognize where we’re holding our traumas and assist the body to release them.

Positive associations to triggering stimuli can be made through guided imagery, imagination, and real time exposure to triggers with a deliberate focus on a positive outcome. Because it takes time to develop new neural pathways, the more ways that we can approach a trigger and build new connections the better.

I leave you with a parting thought about anxiety. The most important thing you can do to help yourself overcome anxiety is to deeply care for and affirm all of who you are. The act of doing this doesn’t just change the brain and alter the chemicals in your system that allow you to feel better and less anxious. Self-care and self-affirmation supports the essence of who you are. And this makes you stronger and more resilient in all aspects of your life.

How You Can Reconnect to YOUR Spirituality

How You Can Reconnect to YOUR Spirituality

This week I made the bold move to move to a country farmhouse outside of Providence. This has been part of my plans for the last 10 years and is the first of many steps forward. I always knew that when my son went off to college I’d decide what I’d do next.

Yet, this is easier said than done.

My life is changing in major ways now that it’s no longer organized around raising my son. I’m responsible only for myself for the first time in years. At times, this has left me feeling like I’m 20 years old and trying to figure out what I want from my life all over again.

Rather than coming up with a concrete plan, I’ve decided to explore different options and leave the door open to opportunities that feel right to me. I have no idea if I’ll spend my next 10 years on a farm or if I’ll quickly recognize my move as vestiges of a long-past dream.

One thing is for sure, though: open space and nature connects me to my spirituality and ultimately awakens my best self. So, one way or another, I’ll build the natural world into my plan.

Reconnect With Your Spiritual Self

There are times in our lives where the spiritual aspect of our experience moves to the side-line. And, for some of us, spirituality may not be part of our lives at all.

There are many reasons why this happens.

For some people, the religion they subscribed to ceased to make sense to them. In the process of putting down their religion they put down their spirituality as well. Many people who do this cannot see how spirituality and religion can exist separately.

For others, the day-to-day is so overwhelming that there is little room to attend to the spiritual aspects of their lives. As Maslow clearly outlined: we cannot begin to address our higher needs until we address our base needs for food, shelter, and water.

Some people have never had a connection to the spiritual. They were raised in an environment that did not honor the spiritual and so they did not learn how to connect with their internal sense of spirituality.

Spirituality means many things to many people. Some people might associate it with a magical feeling, others a state of inner calm, and others a sense of being connected. Personally, I define it as the knowledge that there is a consciousness to all things.

People often tap into their spirituality when in a specific state, such as how they feel after meditation, yoga or a sermon. They link their spiritual experience to an event and then seek that event with a measure of satisfaction. Yet, spirituality is not so much a goal as it is a process.

With this in mind, it becomes easier to reconnect with our spirituality in an everyday way, especially if we feel we’ve lost touch with it.

Let go of what doesn’t work so you can let in what does work

    If your religion no longer aligns with your beliefs, if you’re turned off by some of the atrocities committed in the name of religion, or if you can not put science on hold to believe a literal interpretation of the creation myth, put down these thoughts.
    Why? Because, despite the idea that faith requires you to accept the beliefs of your religion whole-cloth, most spiritual teachers think for themselves. Past atrocities made in the name of religion have less to do with faith and more to do with small-minded human behavior. Spirituality does not create harm to others. Hateful, fearful, and judgmental people do.
    I encourage you to look for what makes sense to you, what creates meaning for you, and what helps you be a better person. Make these things part of your spiritual life regardless of what they look like.

You’ve got something to learn from the disconnect

    Maybe you once felt very spiritually connected, but you do not feel that way now. When this happens, we can feel that we’ve lost something and we jump to all sorts of conclusions about what this means about us.
    Yet, our moments of spiritual disconnection are just as meaningful as our moments of spiritual connection. These difficult times have their own sweet reward and often teach us how to open more deeply to our spiritual truths.
    When we learn to surrender to our heart, reach toward higher ideals, and let go of our shallow needs our experience becomes more profound and meaningful. We learn that what we need to be deeply fulfilled is here and now in the present moment.
    Instead of looking for change, take a look at what you are resisting and see if you can embrace it.

Hit the pause button

    A moment of pause is infinitely important and almost always helpful.
    Simply put, if we stop and let what is happening around us sink into our consciousness, we reconnect to the truth of our experience. The only thing we need to do is to stop long enough to let this happen.
    We can stop in different ways. We can go on a retreat or spend a weekend at home being quiet. We can stop the raging of our anger and create space for love in our heart. We can stop the chatter of our mind and allow for more presence. Ideally, we can do all of these.
    If you don’t have time to pause your life, do what you can. Even brief pauses like stopping to take a few deep breaths can bring in a deeper connection to yourself and what is around you. Over time the effects will become noticeable.

Remember, spirituality is a process and it doesn’t come with dogma. So, open up, explore and find your own pathways to your spiritual connection.

4 Creative + Inspiring Things You Can Do to Care for Those You Love (Including YOURSELF!)

4 Creative + Inspiring Things You Can Do to Care for Those You Love (Including YOURSELF!)

A few years ago, I watched as many of my friends who owned their own businesses ran themselves ragged. I watched as they over-worked themselves and moved further away from the benefits of being an entrepreneur.  I thought to myself, “this is not right. Why be in business for yourself if you’re going to sacrifice your quality of life?”


I decided then and there to better understand why many of my fellow entrepreneurs make this sacrifice.

I’ve come to see this issue as bigger than an out-of-whack life-work balance. I see it as a happiness crisis.

We tend to look for happiness in all the wrong places. We leave dysfunctional jobs or relationships only to recreate the same dysfunction all over again. We give our all to something that we think will bring us joy, and in the end we just tire ourselves out. 

The want for happiness is a great engine for change. Yet, when we know we’re unhappy and don’t know how to create the happiness we seek, that engine can stall out. 


Everyday I see how our ideas about success hoodwink us. Because as much as we think that reaching a certain level of success is going to bring us the happiness we seek –it’s just not. 


I’m on a mission to support people in growing their whole lives in ways that bring them TRUE happiness.


And TRUE happiness comes when we learn to care for ourselves, each other and the world. This is the next major social revolution  – and it’s going to happen at both an individual and collective level.

4 Creative + Inspiring Things You Can do to Care for Those You Love (Including YOURSELF!)


According to Caroline Myss, “the self” that we now talk about is an idea that emerged in the nuclear age. By the 1950’s, psychology and psychoanalysis had become accepted as a way of thinking about people and their behavior.  In turn, the rich inner life that we all experience became just as real as the outer life we live.

This new way of thinking about “the self” ushered in the birth of self-care! Up to the 1950’s people didn’t talk about self-care. They didn’t think about balancing their everyday life demands with things that foster their well-being. Fast forward to today, and self-care is a multi-billion dollar industry and an everyday conversation.


I think that the conversation about self-care leaves out one major thing: and that’s inspiration. Inspiration is more than just happening upon a cleaver idea. It expresses our creativity and forges a path to real change in ourselves in our world. When you’re inspired, you feel alive!


Ideas about self-care are mostly directed at how to eat, exercise, or think positively and less toward how to get inspired. Yet, how can we feed our spirit and nurture our soul without inspiration?


Feeding your soul is self-care. Self-care is all about honoring and caring for yourself in ways that matter most. When you’re able to practice self-care your life becomes less of one huge to-do list and more of a field of abundant meaning and joy.

So to kick off the self-care revolution, here are 4 easy, rich, and deep ways YOU can bring more inspiration into your life.

Write a poem about someone you care for. 

    
Inspiration is within reach most of the time. So, cozy up to your inner-bard and write a poem about your partner, your child or a good friend. See if you can capture what you love about them in this expressive form.  If you brainstorm adjectives, qualities or feelings you associate with this person, you’ll quickly create phrases that inspire you.

 

Notice the tiny, beautiful details and riff on them.

    
Say you’re sitting at home or taking a walk through your neighborhood.  Look around you, and free associate with what you see. For example, if you see thin blades of long grass growing by a wall, maybe they remind you of a time when you saw a piece of beautiful graffiti on a wall with grass just like that. Perhaps the grass near the wall reminds you of the eerie beauty and loneliness of neglected things.  Let yourself wander into your thoughts. You’ll be amazed where you wind up!

 
Create the most luxurious and perfect experience, FOR YOU. 

    
If your version of self-care is to take a bath, a walk in the woods or get a massage, then it’s time to take it up a notch. Make a decadent, fantastic, and yes inspired experience for YOURSELF.  Try new things. Mix and match your experience. Take a bubble bath with candlelight, wine, chocolate, the smell of jasmine and opera music. Or, walk in the woods bundled in soft fabrics singing a song to yourself and noticing how the light hits things.

 
Give an impromptu gift that will make someone’s day.

    Tap into your inspiration and find something – or make something – that will let another person know how special they are to you. When you think about bringing pleasure to someone else’s life, you naturally think creatively and playfully about what’s in the world and how to use it. And even better, when you give a gift your heart opens up and you feel satisfied on a deeper level.


It’s too easy to let days slip by where we’re distracted from what matters most. So challenge yourself to spend an hour each week doing one of these activities. It won’t take long before you’ll feel more inspired and your spirit will feel more nourished.