Passionate

Overcoming Fear of Failure and Uncertainty – knowing your Fundamentals

“If the path before us is clear, we’re probably on someone else’s” – Joseph Campell

Your life did not come with an instructional manual. Which is great because you get to decide how you want to live your life and what you want to accomplish. But, that also means that the minute you decide to take action towards any of your goals, you have to get jump into the world of uncertainty.

Not knowing the outcome of our actions can bring up a good amount of anxiety. But in order to create anything meaningful, you HAVE to be willing to take risks.

Successful people are not immune to being afraid. Fear of failure is a normal fear that everyone feels. But successful people don’t allow their fear to be an excuse for not doing their work. They feel the resistance, and keeping going anyway.

So how do we learn to manage our fear of uncertainty and failure?

…By sticking to our fundamentals.

“The minute you walk away from fundamentals – whether it’s proper technique, work ethic, or mental preparation, – the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing” – Michael Jordon

Your fundamentals, be it your morning workout, meditation practices, list making, getting to bed at a certain time…whatever constants you have in your life will help you feel the confidence and willingness to charter unknown territory.

The problem is, most of us take those behaviors for granted because now they’ve become consistent. What we have to do is notice and name what those consistent behaviors are, and then change our approach to them when in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

For example. When my father got sick a few years ago, I had just started teaching Pilates at a Physical Therapist’s office. But I wanted to be there for my dad (who lived in Vancouver). That required me to work as much as I could at the office for 3 days, fly to Vancouver midweek, return on Sunday and start the whole thing again the following week.

How could I maintain my sanity with this ridiculous schedule and incredible pressure? By sticking to my fundamentals. For me? That meant a cardio workout every morning (even if just for 15 minutes). And, I ended every day adding a few more stitches to my knitting project. And my knitting was the first thing I packed! For me, it was a crucial stress reducer. The rest of my life could be in total chaos provided I did those two things every day.

What are your fundamentals? What do you do that brings you a sense of stability? Morning workouts? Journaling? Meditating? Working in your garden? Green drinks? To-do lists? Specific classes? Hobbies? Podcasts?

Write them out.

Now decide which actions are the most important for you to take on a daily basis when your fear is up and running. Then, when you actually do these things, be present for your experience of them. Don’t just put on your running shoes and go for a run. Remind yourself that you are in fact practicing something that will help you stomach the uncertainty of your day. You’re daily run is not just for your heart…it’s for your spirit too. By being consistent with your fundamentals, you are creating a safe place to land in the midst of chaos.

Remember, living with passion means taking risks. And taking risks requires us to live with fear of uncertainty and failure. The fear my never completely go away. But with your fundamentals in place, you can look it in the eye and move forward anyway. Because although our paths are not always clear to us, they are still ours to experience.

You were meant to do something special in this world that only YOU can do. Discovering it and sharing it is your path.

If you need help with this, get in touch. We can figure this out together.

And as always, retweet, repost, and forward this to your friends.

 

 

 

 

Who’s REALLY in Charge?

…Your “Master” emotions.

Master emotions: knowing how you want to feel can literally change your life

 

We all have vast emotional lives with desires for specific experiences. Some of us value freedom and adventure whereas some of us prefer to feel content and safe. Which means the more we hone in on what makes us tick, the more likely we are to succeed regardless of the goals we set.

I wrote about this process before in terms of figuring out your soul’s desires. Today, let’s use the same exercise but this time, lets dig below those desires to see what’s really driving us. Because when we are at our happiest, it’s because we are feeling something specific…something that personally turns us on. And those specific feelings, are running the show.

Let’s get right to it!

Take out a piece of paper or open a fresh page in your journal.

Step one.

Don’t think…just write: your favorite memories from the last year or so. This can include trips, jobs, relationships, tv shows, parties, classes, etc. All the highlights. Without overthinking it, just write down the times you were full of life and happiness.

Step two.

How did those memories FEEL? Did you feel a sense of belonging, or excitement or adventure or love? Don’t over think it. Just write out all the feelings that come up when you remember those highlights from the past.

You will likely see a few feelings repeated over and over again. That’s fine…just write it all down.

Step 3.

List the top 5 or 6 feelings without worrying about being exact. One of my master feelings is ‘creative expression’ which isn’t really a feeling. But, when I’m engaged in a creative task, I’m feeling most like “myself”. It’s definitely a master emotion for me so I’ll stick with the phrase “creative expression”. I’m not getting hung up on the words because again…its about FEELING a certain way. So, list your top fave feelings.

Now let’s do a little comparison.

For example, maybe your list of favorite emotions is:
connection
exhilaration
supported
grounded
fluid/flow

Start with the first emotion and compare it to the next one.

What would you rather feel? Connection or exhilaration? Let’s say you answer ‘Connection’.

Move onto the next feeling for comparison.

What would you rather feel? Connection or supported? (These may seem similar but there IS a difference…you can feel supported without feeling connection and visa versa). Maybe you answer ‘supported’. That means you favor feeling supported over connection. So now you compare the next feeling to your desire to feel supported.

Again, what would you rather feel? Supported or free?

Keep comparing until you can easily see that you have 2 top emotions that outrank them all…these are your ‘master emotions’.

How does this help with goal setting? By creating opportunities to feel these master emotions while going for your goals. (And this may also shine a light on some goals that you’ve set that don’t actually serve you after all.)

Using my master emotions as an example: connection to spirit and creative expression…let’s see how I can incorporate these emotions into any goals.

Let’s say my goal is to lose weight. How can I feel my master emotions while I approach this goal? Maybe that means taking a ‘mindful eating class’ or exercising outside in nature. Can I be ‘creative’ in the kitchen and learn how to cook healthy foods that taste good? (And changing how we eat is by far one of the toughest things to do…having our master emotions front and center gives us the edge to overcome our resistance.)

If my goal is to shoot a short film, how can I incorporate my master emotions into the actions that I will have to take? For many of us, sitting down to write something like a short film (or a newsletter!) can be the toughest thing to do. But, if we can actually incorporate our master emotions into sitting down to write, we are more likely to actually follow through. For me? I’m definitely feeling creative when I write. But also, I try to write from the heart so I can still feel connected to my truth (connection to spirit) while talking about something heady like goal setting.

What if your goal is to go to Australia? Well…you will likely have to make some money! Brainstorm all the ways you can you bring your master emotions to your day job.

Use this tool for all of the goals on your list. If you can figure out how to utilize your master emotions, you will not only be more likely to succeed…but you will enjoy the process as well.

If this feels overwhelming, get in touch and we’ll go through this process together and get your year off to a powerful start.

And, remember to repost, retweet, and forward this to your friends.

 

 

Mindfull Help for the Holidays

Here we are…knee deep into the holidays. How are you doing? Raise your hand if you’ve already eaten what feels like your entire body weight in holiday treats. Raise your hand if you’ve already lost your shit with your relatives.

Oh, the joy of the season.

Okay, first of all, join the club. In my opinion, there is WAY too much emphasis on this time of year, and WAY too much pressure for all of us to do things perfectly.

The truth is, it’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. So let’s accept that. And instead of killing ourselves to get it right, let’s find a way to actually enjoy the end of the year without shame, anger, exhaustion, and an extra 5 pounds to lose.

If you’re in the self help world (and if you’re reading this, you are) likely, when the word ‘mindfulness’ is muttered, you glaze over as if you were reading a computer manual. It’s a phrase that has been overused and under-explained and truthfully underutilized.

In a previous newsletter, I created a few new names for this practice…’mind awareness’ and ‘presence practice’. Both of those labels, in my opinion, more accurately describe the practice. And also, I’m not using the word ‘practice’ by accident…we ‘practice’ this every day.

Let’s not waste time, let’s get right to practicing immediately!

Feel your feet. How do they feel? Are you in shoes? Socks? Barefoot? Are they cold? Hot? If you had to describe how they felt what would you say…in detail…?

Okay, you just got present. You practiced ‘mindfulness’. Well done.

But what’s the point? Why do this? How can this possibly help me when my holiday to-do list is longer than my arm and all I want to do is eat holiday cookies?

Here is the thing about our bodies and the presence practice. Our bodies are living in the here and now. Second by second, breath by breath. Our bodies couldn’t care less about what you did yesterday or, what you have to get done by the end of the week. Our bodies know nothing about shame, regret, or worry. They are simply here, right now.

So, when you are panicked about what to wear to the holiday party or worried about getting the table set in time for the guests, zone in on a part of your body and feel it fully. (And, FYI, this takes about 30 seconds so ‘I don’t have time’ is not an excuse.)

“But I thought you had to sit and meditate” is likely what your voice of resistance is saying in your head.

Wrong. Well, not entirely. I mean, yes, it’s lovely to sit and notice your thoughts and breath in and out in stillness (and you can check out my fave tracks from my home page on my website). I highly recommend doing that as many days as possible. But meditation without action is only getting 1/2 the benefit of meditating. Think about it. How many times have you finished your meditation practice, got on with your day, and were in a fight with your co-worker by noon? (Confession…I have left yoga classes feeling amazing and within minutes caught myself flipping someone off on the drive home.)

‘Mind awareness/Presence practice’ is your meditation in action. Stopping for 30 seconds to FEEL something in your BODY brings you to the present moment. It interrupts your knee jerk reactions and negative assumptions. It brings you back to the present moment thus releasing you from future worry and past guilt. And, if find you are eating unconsciously, this practice helps you catch yourself before you overeat.

Once you get into the habit of doing this throughout the day (I recommend putting reminders on your phone to chime every hour), see if you can do it while you are busy at work, etc. You CAN keep a part of your mind on how your feet are feeling while talking to your mother. (Yes, it even works with mothers!) You can notice how your breath feels as you inhale and exhale while shopping at Ralph’s. You can notice how the sun feels on your skin, while sitting in traffic.

By just staying present with your body, your stress level is instantly reduced. And less stress means better thoughts. And most likely, more control over your reactions to other people.

So, while you read the last bit of this newsletter, notice your feet, or some part of your body. Just keep part of your mind tuned into that physical sensation while you read on.

Notice you’re not making your shopping list in your head. You are present and able to absorb what you are reading. And, you are more likely to remember everything you need to buy when you go shopping later.

Practice this incessantly over the holidays! In fact, if you do NOTHING else, do the ‘presence practice’ all day long.

 

HAVE AN AMAZING HOLIDAY SEASON!

And repost, retweet and forward to your friends.

 

 

 

 

What the world needs is people who have come alive!

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive…and then do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman

This is a common problem for many people…”what am I going to do with my life?”. That’s a big question! Holy big responsibilities, Bat Man!

Many of us are pressured by our parents to go to school and study (fill in the blank) so we can have a career. Artists and entrepreneurs are almost always encouraged to get a ‘back up’ career…just in case their dreams don’t come true. And some of us look at our friends who seem to be moving along easily in their work life, and we feel like we’ve somehow missed the boat.

Here’s the thing, our world is not the same world as it was for our parents. There are very few ‘back up careers’ left anymore. And most of us won’t stick with the same career for our entire lifetime anyway. Most of us will have several careers over the span of our lives.

So let’s drop the notion of figuring out ‘what to do with our lives’.

Instead, ask yourself what lights you up? When do you feel like you are in the zone? What are you doing when you feel like you are running on all cylinders? What are your favorite things to do?

From there you can start to investigate what work might interest you.

For example, let’s say you love horses. Well, you could teach riding lessons, invest in a barn and lease space to horse owners, work at the racetrack. You could sculpt horses or draw paintings of horses and sell your work in a gallery or on etsy…

I, and many of the people I work with, don’t have just one job. Yes, I teach Pilates and Life Coach but I also teach crafting workshops and have a store on etsy. I’m utilizing as many of my passions as I can to make money and feel fulfilled. So even when I was offered a job to manage a Pilates studio at a gym (a ‘real’, full time job) I turned it down. Managing people sounds like a big drag to me (…even though I’d probably be good at it.) But I know I need to be independent and work for myself. That means risking that I might have less work from time to time. But, it’s worth it…to me.

There are plenty of opportunities to work at doing what we love but we first have to know what that is!

So, pay attention to when you are most alive, most enthusiastic, most passionate. What truly turns you on?

Hint: when you are in the ‘zone’ and time flies by without you noticing, that’s usually a signal that you are doing something you love.

There are no guarantees in life so don’t ‘settle’ for a career because you think you are supposed to have a 9 to 5 job. Pursue your passions instead. The world needs that special aliveness that is unique to you!

I work with many people dealing with this issue. If you are having trouble with this, get in touch and together we’ll figure it out.

Remember to retweet, repost, and forward this to a friend.

What is your social media feed saying about you?

What are you putting out in the world?

I’ve said previously that although you may have no control over a situation, you do have 100% control over your response. How you react to whatever is happening is totally in your control.

And, is your responsibility.

Everything we do is either contributing to joy or adding to suffering. Everything. And how you show up to your work, your relationships, your art, and even your yoga classes, has an effect on the energy of others. You always have the option to add to the joy in this world…it’s a choice.

And never has that been more important than now.

Social media can be absolutely inspiring and thought provoking. I’ve read posts that were so heartfelt I’ve cried real tears for a person I didn’t even know.

And some of the most hideous and hateful things I’ve ever read have been on social media too.

Remember, social media never goes away. So my suggestion is to not just manage what you post…curate it as if it was a display of who you are. Because in many ways, what your Facebook page says about you, matters. Your Instagram feed is constantly putting out energy from the pictures you post. And others can see what you pin on Pintrest so even if you think you’re just screwing around on the internet, people are watching you. Remember, employers actually look at the Facebook pages of potential employees before hiring them. (thank God there was no internet when I was a kid!!!)

I’m not for a second suggesting that everything be cherry blossoms and fairy dust. But sincere comments add more depth to communications than attack tweets. We can be disturbed by the injustices of the world without shutting down the other side with a shaming post. Social media has the power to create positive change if we bring our humanity to it rather then our knee jerk reactions. And although bringing our truth to the world might be scary, our bravery and honesty will have a greater impact on more people.

So how can you avoid lashing out when you see something disturbing and unacceptable? Stop. Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself if you can at all relate or at least be compassionate about what this person has said or done. Then choose your language wisely. Avoid adding more fuel to the fire…and that might very well mean saying nothing at this time. If you’re really fired up, sleep on it. We always see things more clearly once we put a little space between us and the problem.

This is what taking responsibility for ourselves really means: Choosing the energy we are putting out into the world. You have the capacity to add to the sum total of joy in every moment of the day. You also have the power to increase the level of anger and hate in the world. How you REACT is YOUR responsibility. So, think before you tweet. Take a deep breath and reread what you are about to post. Are you being true to who you are or shaming someone for their opinion? What exactly are you contributing if you press “post”?

You always have a choice…especially on social media.

 

 

Cause > Effect Living on the Cause side of the the Equation

 

Life will throw curve balls at you. You will have obstacles to overcome and things will not always go as planned.

Car accidents, illnesses, lay offs, earthquakes… a lot of what happens to us is out of our control.

This is true for all of us including when we are going for our goals. Things will crop up that will threaten to sabotage our outcomes. Those are the effects of life.

But it’s a choice as to whether we allow those effects to rule us.

Thus the equation Cause > Effect.

The amount of cause in our lives should be greater than the effects. But unfortunately, most people live the opposite way around. They allow the effects to rule their lives resulting in added stress, anxiety, and depression.

The truth is, you always have a choice. Although your circumstances may be out of your control, you can choose how you approach the situation. You can’t control the weather but you can control how you’ll navigate the storm. You can’t control traffic (is that not true, my fellow Los Angelenos???) but you can control what you listen to while in traffic. (Recently someone shared that by simply switching to audio books instead of the radio, she has reduced her stress noticeably.) You can’t control the marketing campaigns that tempt you to pull into the drive-through. But you can plan ahead and pack a lunch.

How do you know if you are living on the effect side of the equation? Check out your “buts”. People living at cause don’t make excuses. And excuses almost always start with “but…”.

“But what if it doesn’t work out?”
“But what if I’m not good enough?”
“But what if I fail?”
“But I’ve never done it before?”
“But what if I’m too old/too young/ too whatever…fill in the blank?”

People living on the cause side of life don’t allow their “buts” to get in their way. Likely they have replaced those excuses with questions such as…

“Who do I know who can help me with this?”
“What do I need to learn about this?”
“What can I do right now to improve this situation?”

I’m a huge fan of the statement, “I’ll figure it out”. That ends the bullshit excuses of why I can’t get something done. “I’ll figure it out” leads to more resourceful thinking and triggers the trouble shooting part of my brain.

It’s time to see how much of our lives we are actually taking responsibility for, and what we are making excuses for. You can journal about this…you know your top 20 ‘reasons’ for not taking action by heart already. Write them out and question those buts…are they really just excuses? You can also take a few minutes a day and just observe your inner critic… and notice how often the ‘but’ word is used.

And at the risk of being preachy…our planet needs ‘all hands on deck’ at this point. Every one of us must be living with “cause” because our global community is drowning in the effects of our actions. We simply don’t have time for excuses anymore.

If you want support with this, get in touch. And please, retweet, repost, and forward this to your friends.

“We are the Choices we Make”

“We are the choices we make”…Meryl Streep

News flash…you will never “find” yourself. The truth is, we “create” ourselves…every moment of every day.

That means our thoughts, our language, what we choose to act on, and what we choose to skip, all will have an effect on our lives. And not just our lives, but the lives of others as well.

We all know that saying “one person can change the world”…well, the reason it sounds cheesy is because there is truth to it. The ripple effect is real. There was a study done on this very topic. (“Implications of Vascular Theory of Emotions”…very dry read!) It’s summary states that 1,000 people are within 3 degrees of each other. That was not a typo…you are 3 degrees away from effecting the lives of 1,000 people. So how you show up in your life really matters. There is no better time then right now, to own our lives and the actions we take. And not just the big juicy actions…the little decisions matter too. And how you talk to yourself is crucial to your success and self worth. Despite how small this distinction is, it’s effects on your life are huge.

Do you ever listen to what you say to yourself? We all do it…we all have that running commentary going on in the backs of our minds. Who does your voice sound like? A cheerleaders or jailer? A loving supporter or destructive tyrant? A compassionate parent or an abusive one?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” is total Bullshit.

Words mixed together into sentences are bundles of emotions. They can move you to tears of joy, or tears of pain.

Words matter.

Most of us have some fairly vile self talk that we fall victim to sometimes. And we all know that we would never say those things to another living being. For some of us, our self-talk is so violent it’s not fit for anyone to hear. Yet we listen anyway.

Why is it important to change our inner dialogue? Well, let’s apply some common sense. Let’s say the only water you drank was polluted and toxic? What would eventually happen? You would BECOME polluted and toxic.

It’s the same with thoughts! If all you feed yourself is harsh criticism and shame, you will BECOME fearful of everyone and most likely paralyzed by your shame.

So how can you expect to go out and take risks, and make the world a better place, if you think you are something to be ashamed of?

It’s time we changed our relationships with ourselves. And it starts by tuning in to what we tell ourselves on a daily basis.

I call the negative talk in my head “YSR radio…You Suck Radio”. And when it’s on in the background, I don’t just turn down the volume, I change the damn station!

I’m over simplifying, I know. But this self monitoring doesn’t’ have to be a total drag either.

Pull out your journal and write out your own “You Suck Radio” program. This won’t take long because you know it by heart by now. But taking the time to put it on the page is useful because then you can use your own words to shift your perspective.

For example, maybe you are unhappy with your weight. Write out all of your self talk around how much you weigh, why you’ll never improve, why you are destined to be as fat as a house for the rest of your life…(that was my self talk by the way), etc. Go for it. Let that vicious voice in your head have it’s say…and write it all down.

Now reread what you wrote. Is any of that true or helpful in any way? Does thinking you’re destined to fail motivate you to take positive actions in your life? And can the opposite be true as well…like the times you actually DID succeed at something?

What are you focussing on? Your successes or your failures? Is “You Suck Radio” blaring in your head? And if so, how do you think that will affect your day? How will it affect all the people you interact with today? Remember…we are all just 3 degrees away from affecting 1,000 people.

Start to listen to your thoughts about yourself. Your words matter whether they are directed at you or other people. Write them down and question their validity. Tune in to what station is playing in your head. And if it sucks, change the station.

Don’t forget to forward this to your friends, repost, and retweet!

The Truth about Change

Growth does not come from a checklist…The truth about change.

Real change can only happen when we love ourselves enough to stand up and do what we know is best for us.
Take a look at your To-do list. How do you feel when you read through it? Could you easily call it your “ to create more joy in my life” list? Does your list make you feel passionate and inspired? Does it help you feel happy?

Or, is this a list of “should’s” to someday feel like a better person? In other words, if you check all the boxes does that mean you’ll feel more validated, more worthy, more acceptable?

For some of us, our to-do lists have become a hustle for our self-esteem. We believe that the more healthy, organic, spiritual, and meditative we are, the ‘better’ we will be as people. On top of that, we have to take actions towards our goals, make more money, and somehow find time to stay current on the latest TV shows. Not to mention keeping up our Instagram feed…

The problem isn’t our goals or our desires or all the actions we intend to take each day. The problem is when we turn these goals and actions into a gauge of our self worth. Because if achieving all these things is our only way to feel okay with ourselves, our days will leave us exhausted and empty. After all, even if we do accomplish it everything, tomorrow we have to start all over again…new day, new list.

For many of us, we have ‘self improvement’ reasons behind our plans. “If I include a green drink every day, my liver and kidneys will be happy. If I practice guided meditation I won’t get sick. If I stop procrastinating I’ll actually have enough time to practice yoga. If I get off my ass and exercise, I’ll be worthy of that gift massage I’ve been putting off.”

This sounds more like a “I’ll be a good person if I do these things” list to me.

Notice your plans…are they more about how to fix yourself than to create more of what you’re passionate about? Ask yourself this question…”Do I think that if I accomplish everything on my list, I will like myself more? That I’ll be a better, more acceptable, lovable person?”

Seriously, why are you doing what you’re doing?

More importantly, does getting all that done feel freeing to you?

Unfortunately, often we are so desperate to feel good about ourselves we can’t accept ourselves as we are in this moment. Believe me, if constantly viewing ourselves as a self improvement project actually helped motivate us to take action towards our dreams, then I’d be all for it!

But that is not how growth works. I repeat:

Real change happens when we love ourselves enough to stand up and do what we know is best for us. We naturally ‘improve’ when we are passionately living our lives…not when we are checking things off a list.

So, when I work with people on their goals, the first thing I get clear about is why they want those things in the first place.

And then? We toss that old to-do list. Instead of a long list of not so exciting things (I mean really, how exciting can green juice be?) we come up with 3 actions a day.

Personally, every day I write the 3 things I will do that day to help me feel like I’m moving closer to my desires…not my self esteem. The difference might seem subtle but it’s effects are huge. Working for what I’m passionate about creates energy and is exciting. Whereas, making up for my supposed shortcomings is depressing and only fuels my self-shame.

What if you rewrote your health plans in ways that excited you? For example, instead of listing ‘yoga 3 times a week’ how about saying, ‘this week I will move in ways that feel great 3 times’. Maybe yoga totally fills you with mojo. Great. But by taking away the restriction, maybe you’ll bust out the African drumming album and dance your ass off instead. (also excellent exercise and super fun!)

How could you revamp your spiritual practice? Maybe instead of insisting on doing a seated meditation every day, you could instead say “I will connect to my source every day”. This opens you up to more ways to fuel that desire. Yes, you could sit and meditate. But you could also include the option of compassion meditation (something that does not require you to sit still for any period of time…contact me if you want to learn more about it at brigittadau@yahoo.com). Simply stopping to enjoy nature for a moment could be a beautiful way to connect to your source. Also practicing mindfulness, or noting what you are grateful for could be a way to keep your spiritual commitment.

Putting extra pressure on ourselves to get things done will never lead us to joy and liberation. Loving ourselves, will. And by making your desires easy and fun to act upon, you’ll immediately start to move in the direction you want to move in. Your days will begin to change and be less about proving your worth through accomplishments. They will be more about bringing your true self to all of your encounters. And when you show up authentically in your life, your need for approval automatically dissipates.

So, go back and take a good hard look at your goals and your to-do lists…are they bringing you joy? Do they light you up? Do they fill you with enthusiasm? Or do you feel like you are hustling for your self worth? Don’t get trapped by your “should list”. Instead, lighten up on the restrictions and write your new “path to Joy” list.

As always, if you liked this, repost, retweet, and forward to someone you care about. And if you want help with this, get in touch.

 

Mindful Eating

Using Mindfulness to stop Distracted and Emotional eating

Raise your hand if you eat in the car. Do you tend to overeat when out with friends? Are there times you find yourself eating when you aren’t even hungry? Do you read or watch TV while you eat? Do you tend to overeat when you are around your family?

So many of us have a distorted, unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve had issues with food since I was a young child. So, getting over emotional eating was a part of my path to healing and ultimately re-creating my relationship with food.

The real gateway for me was what Geneen Roth (author of the fabulous book, “Women, Food, and God”) calls the ‘presencing practice’ also known as ‘mindfulness’.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is simply being totally aware in the present moment.

How do we apply this to eating?

Here are some things to try:

For one meal a day, do nothing. Just sit and eat your food. And, be present. Notice how it tastes, the textures, the smells, the colors. If you had to describe this food to someone who has no clue what it tastes like, what would you say? Also notice your feelings? Does eating without distraction bring up anxiety? Or other uncomfortable feelings?

The first thing that happens when you do this, is you slow down your eating. And if you are eating to stuff down your emotions I guarantee you are eating too fast.

The other thing that happens is your body is now free to tell you how it’s feeling and more importantly, when it’s had enough to eat. The cue to stop eating is usually subtle. And if you were raised to “finish everything on your plate”, then your natural experience of feeling full is likely skewed.

For me, if I’m paying attention, my breathing changes when my body has had enough. It’s subtle, but eating beyond that moment would be overeating.

I promise you if I’m out with friends I will often miss that cue! But, if I remember to eat just one meal a day, totally present without distraction, I will be more likely to notice when my body really has had enough.

Some of us eat so unconsciously that we’ve forgotten how it feels to feel hungry. So, that is another thing to try to do once a day…

Don’t eat until you feel actual hunger. Our natural feelings of hunger are also subtle.

I’m not saying to starve yourself! When you’ve gone too long without food, that’s when “I’m hangry” kicks in. And that’s when you are more likely to choose something with too much sugar in it. There are countless commercials preying on that very impulse telling you things like “you’re not yourself until you have a snickers bar”. So no starving!

Just choose a meal that you can eat when you are hungry, rather then at a designated time (lunch break, etc). Practicing this once a day will also help if you have a fear of getting hungry. That is quite common. Feeling panicked that you won’t have food, can lead you to eat before you are truly hungry. Which leads to overeating because your body wasn’t ready to eat in the first place. Thus, your body’s signal to stop eating likely won’t happen. If going hungry is a fear of yours, have food with you. I have nuts with me all the time so if I’m worried about getting hungry later, I know I’m covered.

Try those two exercises for a few weeks and see what changes in your behavior around food. Again, just one meal a day, totally present. And for one meal a day, wait until you’re actually hungry before you eat.

I’m here to help if you are ready to tackle this and need extra support.
Having said that, if you know you have an eating disorder, PLEASE get medical help. Do not wait or think you can handle it alone. Contact your Doctor immediately.

We all deserve to have a healthy relationship with food. And we can. But for some of us, we have to slow down and get present first.

If this resonated for you…forward it, retweet it, repost it.

And let me know how these practices went for you.

Feeding the Wolves

In Wayne Dyer’s book, “the Power of Intention,” he shares a conversation he overheard soon after 9/11.

A grandfather and his grandson were talking. The grandfather said, “I have 2 wolves fighting inside of me. One is filled with anger, hate, violence and revenge. The other is filled with love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.”

“Which one do you think will win?” asked the grandson.

“The one that I feed”, replied the grandfather.

Stop and think about that for a second. Which wolf are you feeding these days?

Your self-talk, your values, and your beliefs effect how you react to your world. And your beliefs are created by thinking the same thoughts over and over again until you ‘believe’ they are true. Which means it’s important to know what you’re thinking!

When you are thinking attack thoughts, you are feeding the wolf of hate and negativity. Just like, when you are thinking loving thoughts you are feeding the wolf of compassion and kindness. I’m going to make the assumption that most of us would prefer to feed the wolf of kindness.

So, how do we manage our thoughts?

By paying attention. Here again, is yet another great reason to meditate and practice being mindful. And, I’m actually going to rename the practice of mindfulness to “mind awareness”, because that more truthfully describes the practice.

“Mind awareness” is exactly what it claims to be: becoming aware of what your mind is thinking. This requires you to disconnect from your thoughts and observe them, rather than associating and hooking into them. By that I mean, you don’t take your thoughts as “truths” and act upon them. Instead you notice them and allow them to show up. But, you take no action based on those thoughts because you are now simply observing them. Thus, you are disengaging from the power they have over you. They are just thoughts. You decide whether to act on them or not.

Not to get all “Matrixy” on you, but the truth is, you are not your thoughts…you are the one thinking your thoughts. Your true self is the” observing self” as some call it.

This is where meditation comes in. There are many forms of meditation. And there is a specific way to meditate for mind awareness.

Before I go any further, I want to clear up some confusion about this form of meditation. The goal is NOT to have no thoughts while meditating. The goal is to allow TONS OF THOUGHTS while meditating, and instead, notice the thoughts and then let them go.

So how do we do this? For some of us, we follow our breath in and out. Some of us use a mantra that we silently repeat in our head. Some of us listen to pretty music. (My faves are at the bottom of this newsletter) What’s most important is that you sit down and do it, not whether you’re saying the right mantra.

You sit, for a chosen amount of time, and notice when your thoughts distract you from your focus. Then, when you notice your mind has strayed, you simply return to your breath or mantra. That’s it. Easy peazy.

I can already feel your resistance…”I don’t have enough time”. First of all, you do…(my last newsletter was about that very thing and if you missed it let me know and I’ll send it to you). You likely have that resistance because someone said ’20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening were best’. Well, really? I started with 3 minutes a day! I’m not kidding, that is how I started my practice. Now, I meditate almost every day and for however long I can. Some days it’s still 3 minutes, some days 10, sometimes several times a day…As long as I’m doing it, it’s helping.

Let’s get back to how that translates into real life. When you practice noticing your thoughts when you are still and quiet, you will find it easier to notice your thoughts when you are busy living your life. And by noticing your thoughts, you can start to clear out some of the negative ones and replace them with something more positive. You will more quickly notice when you are being judgmental, impatient, and self critical. And because you are conscious of those thoughts, you can then actively begin to cultivate more compassion instead.

And, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Set your time to meditate. Remember, just 3 minutes most days is a great place to start. I don’t care how busy you are, you can carve out 3 minutes to sit and notice your thoughts. Then start to be more mind aware throughout your day.

Some people have a reminder on their phone that goes off several times a day to remind them to observe their thoughts. Some people post it in various places reminding them to be mind aware.

After a while, you won’t need the reminders. But when first practicing this, I recommend doing something to help you remember throughout the day. After all, most of us are on auto pilot for a good amount of the time so remembering to shift into awareness can be challenging. So, set up some reminders to make your life easier.

Try this for a week and see how much easier it is to notice which wolf you are feeding…and let me know how it goes!

And, if you want to go deeper with meditation and mind awareness, get in touch. This is one of my favorite practices to work on with people.

And if you liked this, remember: retweet, repost, forward to a friend!

And lastly…if you want to meditate to my fave music…check it out here
(link)