Readiness for Change

Changing behavior is challenging.  And there are 6 stages (shown) we all go through in our efforts to change. So ‘action’ occurs only after pre-contemplation, contemplation, and preparation. So wellness coaching is a perfect way to explore where you are in the process, your reasons for changing, and previous obstacles. We’ll work work through these steps, strengthen your commitment, tap into your motivation, and move toward your goals. All the while we acknowledge the circular patterns of behavior rather than a linear ‘success or failure’.

SMART Goals

Goal setting is a very effective way to make lasting change in your life and the following guidelines should help you. We all have plenty of experience with unrealized ambition however once you’ve spent the time and effort to identify what you want, the following will help fine-tune that for maximum effectiveness. I would only add that holding yourself accountable with either a coach ~wink 😉 or a trusted partner in your endeavor increases the likelihood of success.

  • Specific – Be as specific as possible with goals. Leave no room for indecision, confusion, waffling, wiggling, or waning. Determine what you will do, how long you will do it, and when you will do it.
  • Measurable – Determine how you will measure success for yourself. If you can measure a goal, then you can objectively determine how successful you are at meeting the goal.
  • Attainable – Make your goals challenging but feasible. An attainable goal is one that you have enough time and resources to achieve.
  • Realistic – Set yourself up for success by being realistic in your goal setting. Setting an unrealistic goal may result in disappointment or the temptation to give up altogether.
  • Timely/Trackable – Determine milestones for yourself and a time frame to achieving your goals. Keeping track can help you evaluate your progress and stay motivated.

International Institute for Building Biology and Ecology

It’s estimated that we spend the majority of our time at home and therefore creating a healthy home should be a top priority. But the following site doesn’t stop there as it encourages us to “create health-supporting homes, schools, places of worship, and commercial buildings everywhere”. The site has resources of all kinds – online courses, information about every phase of construction, indoor air quality, etc. I like to refer to this site with all my questions and it’s a great go-to resource for creating spaces.https://hbelc.org/index.php?fbclid=IwAR0aZzzq7b6cxABz_fuQ7L_WiCF8b5oOCmVz9bexnmV6VVnweRJvwM-iX8Y

The Weight Loss Technique That Boosts Self Control

Sometimes these things come out of nowhere but in this case, I can understand that receiving both coaching and empathy makes it easier to stay with your resolutions, whatever they are.

“Rather than acting as cheerleaders giving facile encouragement, leaders of weight loss groups might serve their clients better by providing a more sobering description of the challenges participants face.”

I call it empathy, plain and simple but you can be the judge here

10 THINGS THAT HAD TO CHANGE AT MIDLIFE

imagesIt’s not that I didn’t get the memo earlier in life. How can you miss the snarky references to women at all phases of their life right? it’s just that I was busy trying to keep all my plates in the air to really consider what the talk about mid-life was all about before it was staring me in the face. In retrospect, and why I’m writing this blog post BTW, embracing all the changes even earlier would’ve made it so much easier. So with the help of my Ayurvedic doctor Marcia, angel that she is, along with years of trial and error, I’ve eventually settled into a routine that’s made life far more enjoyable. Here’s a recap of my journey:

  1. All my hair, make up, shampoo, even my hair cut were no longer working, dangit!! Of course, you imagine that by your mid-forties or so you’ve figured out the best moisturizer for your face, shampoo for your type of hair, the most flattering make-up based on your skin, a haircut that works with your life and even a shampoo schedule. But I resisted the writing on the wall until I couldn’t and finally began all that experimentation all over again, admitting that what used to work now didn’t.
  2. My daily sleep and wake cycles-once I began having hot flashes at 4AM, I realized that going to bed late at 11pm or midnight put me right in the middle of my sleep cycle making me a crabby witch the next day, cursing my body…. which made the hot flashes worse and me even more frustrated and difficult. When Marcia first suggested a 9:30pm bedtime I laughed, not realizing she knew what she was talking about and that getting up at 6am allowed me to get so much more done before I needed to be out the door in the morning.
  3. My diet – I’ve always had a restricted diet due to one reason or another but the first thing the Acupuncturist (who I consulted with for the hot flashes) told me was the vegetarian diet had to go since my “blood was weak”. Wha??? And why was the pasta I’d eaten all my life sitting like a rock in my stomach? Why were the dairy products I ate so minimally making my scalp itch? Now the carbonation in anything (beer, tonic, mineral water, etc) made the hot flashes so much worse. Time to rethink the diet thing too! Who knew spicy foods made you hotter? I’m paying attention by now! The keto diet is working well!!
  4. My fitness regime had been vigorous in my attempt to stay one step in front of my young dance and yoga students but I was growing weary of flogging myself at the gym and decided instead to give the old ‘honor thy body’ a try with a better-rounded routine that incorporated balance into the mix. It was then I realized what this was all about-I needed a better balance EVERYWHERE in my life.
  5. My circle of friends and relations – I guess in an effort to get along, go with the flow, make life happy and bright for everyone else, I forgot to give much thought to myself which isn’t an uncommon theme for women. We are wired, plumbed, and acculturated to put others first, feed everyone before ourselves, and take the crust of the bread loaf. Most of us are pleasers. I realized I was the only one NOT pleased with this approach and now I’m ruthlessly reassessing.
  6. My spiritual practice-no longer could I just go through the motions. This stuff was hard and I finally admitted I couldn’t do it without help. But the help wasn’t where I wanted it to be – on the list of in-network practitioners. I’d tried all of them over the years and exhausted not only myself, but my bank account and my patience. I had no choice but to look inward for answers and stop fighting the obvious. I start to relax a bit more.
  7. My tolerance level for people, places, and other things-I just let go of the family members that taunted and bullied, the obligations that filled no purpose, the routines that were empty, and the acquaintances that had insinuated themselves into my life. By now I was appreciating all the changes and the power of this sacred transition.
  8. My leisure activities-in the past they were generally dictated by my children, their school, my husband, etc that left little time for the things I loved and did so little for the person I by now was trying to honor.
  9. My volunteer activities – with so many meaningless behaviors now gone, I chose two efforts I wanted to support and practice using my new-found boundaries with. Coincidentally, it’s when I realized the politics in this country needed everyone’s attention and I was ready to do my part.
  10. My boundaries-I finally have some and that really helps. My gratitude practice is working!!

For all the difficulty I’ve had on this path, I can’t regret any of it because of what I’ve learned about me. I’m not as pretty as I once was and my body doesn’t look the same as when I was younger. My hair isn’t as vibrant and men don’t look at me either. I can’t indulge in the food I used to and I sure can’t drink like the old days. I fall into that category of ‘invisible’ in our society even though I’m smarter, kinder, and wiser. But my energy is better than ever, I’m emotionally better balanced, and I like myself more than ever which isn’t what I thought I’d be saying many years into this journey. I’ve embraced who I am. Finally!

RESILIENCY: WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO CULTIVATE MORE OF IT

What you should know about resiliency

  • Helps with overcoming adversity and adapting to change
  • Allows us to go with the flow
  • Mitigates stress, fear and self-doubt
  • Becoming resilient takes time and requires practice
  • Seek help if you aren’t making progress or don’t know where to start

UnknownWhat we know about the brain and how it works-these three are really mind boggling!

  • Empathy for others is experienced as pain – the same neurons fire and cause suffering whether by direct or indirect experience
  • Imaginary is real- the same nerve bundles fire whether you’re imagining or not
  • Brain can’t discern between broken heart and broken leg-it’s all pain

Why we need resiliency

  • Helps us rebound after loss
  • Develops healthy coping mechanisms and tools to handle setbacks and stress
  • Helps offset factors that increase your risk of mental health conditions
  • Improves your ability to cope
  • Improves inner strength and develops a stronger constitution

How to cultivate greater resiliency

  • History supports modern findings that inner contentment is found by a regular gratitude practice
  • Compassion for others also benefits the self by defeating fear and self-doubt
  • Meaningful and altruistic activities help you feel safe and worthy
  • Cultivating gratitude and compassion will serve you better than the pursuit of happiness

Additional helpful practices to cultivate resiliency

  1. Get connected-develop strong positive relationships, networks, and communities
  2. Set meaningful goals
  3. Recognize and learn successful skills and strategies from your experiences
  4. Understand that all things change
  5. Reach out for help when in crisis
  6. Develop supportive networks
  7. Take care of yourself
  8. Eat well
  9. Get healthy amounts of sleep, sunshine, and fresh air
  10. Practice relaxation, yoga, meditation, breathing practices, etc.
  11. Be proactive

Resources: Dr Amit Sood-Mayo Clinic

Classic Cranberry Relish-Sugar Free

I adore this dish with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and once I realized how easy it was to avoid the sugar, I was hooked!!  None of my dinner guests have ever noticed it isn’t the classic!

12 oz (1.5 cups) Fresh Cranberries (washed)
1 Orange (washed)
Stevia to taste

  1. Grate 2 teaspoons of zest from orange; discard remaining peel and pith from 1 orange. Divide orange into sections.
  2. Place orange sections, orange zest, 1.5 cups (12 oz) cranberries, *2 packages Stevia (or approx 25 drops) in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. I’ve chopped by hand as well..even nicer consistency!
  3. Transfer relish to a bowl and cover; refrigerate to allow flavors to blend, at least 2 hours.
  4. Taste to adjust stevia/sweetness level.

*Stevia is a plant sold in many different ‘strengths’ so sweetness levels depend on your brand and desired sweetness. Err on the side of caution and add stevia slowly to desired taste.

Four Concrete Steps for Working with Trauma

with Bessel van der Kolk, MD and Ruth Buczynski, PhD

Editor’s note: These people are top of their field and always worth the time!

Step 1: Start with Self-Regulation

Dr. van der Kolk: I would say the foundation of all effective treatments involves some way for people to learn that they can change their arousal system.

Before any talking, it’s important to notice that if you get upset, taking 60 breaths, focusing on the out breaths, can calm your brain right down. Attempting some acupressure points or going for a walk can be very calming.

Dr. Buczynski: So this is learning to modulate arousal?

Dr. van der Kolk: Yes, and there’s alarmingly little in our mainstream culture to teach that. For example, this was something that kindergarten teachers used to teach, but once you enter the first grade, this whole notion that you can actually make yourself feel calm seems to disappear.

Now, there’s this kind of post-alcoholic culture where if you feel bad, you pop something into your mouth to make the feeling go away.

“The issue of self-regulation needs to become front and center in the treatment of trauma.”

It’s interesting that right now there are about six to ten million people in America who practice yoga, which is sort of a bizarre thing to do – to stand on one foot and bend yourself up into a pretzel. Why do people do that? They’ve discovered that there’s something they can do to regulate their internal systems.

So the issue of self-regulation needs to become front and center in the treatment of traumatized people. That’s step number one.

Step 2: Help Your Patients Take Steps Toward Self-Empowerment

The core idea here is that I am not a victim of what happens. I can do things to change my own thoughts, which is very contrary to the medical system where, if you can’t stand something, you can take a pill and make it go away.

The core of trauma treatment is something is happening to you that you interpret as being frightening, and you can change the sensation by moving, breathing, tapping, and touching (or not touching). You can use any of these processes.

It’s more than tolerating feelings and sensations. Actually, it is more about knowing that you, to some degree, are in charge of your own physiological system.

There needs to be a considerable emphasis on “cultivating in myself,” not only as a therapist, but also as a patient – this knowing that you can actually calm yourself down by talking or through one of these other processes.

So, step number two is the cultivation of being able to take effective action. Many traumatized people have been very helpless; they’ve been unable to move. They feel paralyzed, sit in front of the television, and they don’t do anything.

“Programs with physical impact would be very, very effective treatments.”

Programs with physical impact, like model mugging (a form of self-defense training), martial arts or kickboxing, or an activity that requires a range of physical effort where you actually learn to defend yourself, stand up for yourself, and feel power in your body, would be very, very effective treatments. Basically, they reinstate a sense that your organism is not a helpless (tool) of fate.

Step 3: Help Your Patients Learn to Express Their Inner Experience

The third thing I would talk about is learning to know what you know and feel what you feel. And that’s where psychotherapy comes in: finding the language for internal experience.

The function of language is to tie us together; the function of language is communication. Without being able to communicate, you’re locked up inside of yourself.

“Without being able to communicate, you’re locked up inside of yourself.”

So, learning to communicate and finding words for your internal states would be very helpful in terms of normalizing ourselves – accepting and making (the communication of internal states) a part of ourselves and part of the community. That’s the third part.

Step 4: Integrate the Senses Through Rhythm

We’re physical animals, and to some level, we’re always dancing with each other. Our communication is as much through head nodding and smiles and frowns and moving as anything else. Kids, in particular, and adults, who as kids were victims of physical abuse and neglect, lose those interpersonal rhythms.

“Rhythmical interaction to establish internal sensory integration is an important piece.”

So, some sort of rhythmical interaction to establish internal sensory integration is an important piece that we are working on. With kids, we work with sensory integration techniques like having them jump on trampolines and covering them with heavy blankets to have them feel how their bodies relate to the environment because that’s an area that gets very disturbed by trauma, neglect, and abuse, especially in kids.

For adults, I think we’ve resolved rhythmical issues with experiences like tango dancing, Qi Gong, drumming – any of these put one organism in rhythm with other organisms and is a way of overcoming this frozen sense of separation that traumatized people have with others.

Dr. Buczynski: These are four keystones that can make healing from trauma faster and more effective. In order to give patients the best chance for recovery, consider these steps as you plan your interventions and treatments.

Pema Wisdom

“At the root of all the harm we cause is ignorance. Through meditation, that’s what we begin to undo. If we see that we have no mindfulness, that we rarely refrain, that we have little well-being, that is not confusion, that’s the beginning of clarity”

from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

From This Day Forward

Is it so wrong to wake each day and rewrite the plan? I think the folly is waking each day only to go through the motions you went through yesterday without asking the questions:

  • How can today be better (based on your measure) than yesterday?
  • What can I do today to create a life more reflective of my values?
  • When do I begin the authentic life?
  • How will I hang on to my own truth today?
  • Where will I find joy today?

Otherwise you will wake in 30 years and wonder what you’ve been doing. You will look behind you and sadly surmise you’ve been asleep. You might even see years of unconscious avoidance of the journey worthy of your greatness. But that’s OK because today is a brand new adventure. You will make the most of each moment and you will begin anew, again. But it’s the conscious mindfulness that will set you apart today and all the other days you choose to live in the present. And this worthy of deep respect for the self.  This honesty empowers you to do the same tomorrow and there-in lies the path to authenticity. Isn’t this what grounds us and allows more and more days like this where we develop a deep respect for ourselves?

Designing Therapy Spaces: Part 3

In part 1 & 2, we looked at some general aspects of healing spaces: the need for orderliness, supportive environments for practitioners themselves, and some color tips. This time we’ll discuss lighting the space. Most practitioners understand warm lighting with table lamps but because of the expense, we often cut corners and an unsteady, cheap lamp is not advised. Natural light is always an excellent choice.

Recently, I read a book that included personality traits the general public assigned to their favorite brands. Out of 300 descriptors, researchers distilled the list to 5 and I think these could be helpful when considering how others would describe our space. The 5 words (in no particular order) are sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness.

77b861e5d3b3964f98a90696c04c08c9Competence and sophistication might be your credentials,education, and your experience. Sincerity might be covered by your orderly and carefully appointed work space. Ruggedness might be the sturdy furnishings that are slightly masculine – see part 1 & 2. But excitement might need to be covered by a bit of dramatic flair in your office. Although folks feel less exposed with softer lighting and overheads with dimmers, this may be an opportunity to have a bit of fun with illumination of a different sort. A gas fireplace is an awesome touch but not always practical or appropriate however you have some creative license here. Be playful and have some fun. Remember, you spend the most time in your office and your well-being is a top priority!

FINDING YOUR LIFE’S WORK EVERY DAY

Ruminating on how many times I see an article promising the reader relief from their boredom (as in ‘find your life’s work’), I realize there was a time that I too seemed dumbstruck with the overwhelming needs in the world. But then I reflected on the previous few decades and decided I was already ‘living my destiny’ and I became empowered then to simply stay the course. Understandably, not everyone is as old as me, but my point here is that you may already be fulfilling your destiny whether or not you’ve figured out how to make a living at it.

We seem to have raised our kids to expect fame and fortune when one finds that magic destiny although those of us who’ve been down the entrepreneurial path know it takes a large fortune to make a small one – riches usually aren’t at the end of that rainbow. So what’s up with all of this? Did my parents spend so much time thinking they were missing something? I wonder if this is another one of those 1st world problems…. we certainly have the luxury to do a bit more than scrape together enough food to eat for the day and find a dry safe place to sleep at night, unlike many in this world.

Another misconception is that anything worth doing requires a GREAT idea. But most successful people, no matter how you define success, have had many small ideas, most of which didn’t pan out or were downright failures. So isn’t it more important to keep supporting your causes until you’re to the point you can reinforce them a bit more? Do we really think, like in some movie, some super idea will come to us in a dream? Then we’ll wake up, act as we never have before and take the world by storm?

The secret may be you are already doing your life’s work. You just haven’t found freedom there.  And that may be because freedom still involves sadness and loneliness. Is it how we’re defining freedom that has us stumbling? There will still be good days and bad days. You will still complain about the love of your life. The children you adore will be annoying and you’ll forget to take the garbage to the curb. Without the mundane, we can never appreciate the exciting and without suffering, we can never appreciate ecstasy. If your life feels meaningless, go out there and work towards solutions. Feed the hungry and clothe the poor. I know from experience that it helps put things in perspective. Otherwise my friends, you will reflect on a life a inaction when you are my age and realize you already had the answers but didn’t realize it at the time.

Designing Therapy Spaces: Part Two

We’re continuing our series on designing office spaces for health and wellness practitioners. If you missed part one – https://healingconsortium.com/2014/12/01/designing-therapy-spaces-a-series-to-enlighten-and-delight/ – we discussed the broad strokes that shouldn’t be overlooked. Moving on to specifics of decor, the important element is to not only empower you, the practitioner, but to also demonstrate empathy for your clients – their comfort and progress. So while no two spaces will look alike, keep the stimulation level at a minimum with muted neutral colors that allow you to add pops of color based on the season so that you yourself don’t become tired of the space you inhabit on a regular basis.

Charley's Staging- Spring 2008 026Warm, almost masculine color schemes that are organized and tidy are in order here. Start with what you have and pull out a color wheel. Try to keep to no more than 3 dominant colors, otherwise it begins to look chaotic. Let’s look at the office in the photo- the walls are a green and the furniture and window reddish-brown. Red and green are opposite each other on the color wheel. Be sure the colors have similar values/saturation levels – generally furniture, other than white, has deep saturation levels so mixing pastels with them can be tricky. Another approach is to go to the paint store and find the color combinations they provide on the sample cards, choosing what you already own and complementing from there. Then you have license to play with accessories you enjoy! Remember, don’t include anything you don’t absolutely love. Next time – lighting.

 

Depression in the Workplace

UnknownAlthough we’ve come a long way with brain science and we can now see the difference in a brain scan between a depressed person and a not depressed person, we have a long way to go. How does depression really manifest in different people? What does the depressed person act like? Why do we so often miss the signs in others and lose so many to suicide? I ponder these questions each time I realize that although I know myself, I know I suffer from seasonal depression, I know it’s winter and the light is low in my part of the world, I miss the fact that I’m depressed. If I miss it in myself, how likely is it that you’ll be looking for it in others? Until I find myself repeating the phrase “I hate my life” with my head in my hands, I often am clueless.  Why doesn’t it occur to me sooner? Why am I so surprised? But this is classic depression. The brain is still functioning but my heart has sunk a little deeper into my chest and the shades are drawn. It’s little wonder that the image above shows so much darkness in the depressed brain.

Apparently, emotions and logic are located on opposite sides of the brain which explains irrational behavior – emotions have taken over. As the human brain developed, survival depended on switching off one side of the brain (think emergency) in order for the other half of the brain to lead.

“So when we become caught up in our emotions, we actually become very stupid. We have lost the ability to step back and look at all the options and every thing is seen in black or white terms. Either everything is alright or everything is all wrong! This is a clear explanation for depression, which is a huge emotion. It also explains anxiety and panic attacks where the fight or flight system becomes permanently switched on. It also explains obsessions and compulsions like self harm, where the arousal and expectation produce adrenaline and other emotion-related hormones and chemicals, which feel as though they can only be dissipated by performing the ritual.” Frances Masters, BACP accredited psychotherapist 

So often, we humans have 20/20 vision when it comes to those around us yet we can’t ‘see the forest for the trees’ in our own life. You probably recognize when those around you are out of sorts, difficult to be around, but does it occur to you that they may be generally depressed? Instead of writing this off as a difficult co-worker, an over-stressed parent, or an impossible boss, a quiet lunch where compassionate concern is expressed may be all that’s needed to help them recognize that they need help.

So what are symptoms of depression?

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. …
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. …
  • Appetite or weight changes. …
  • Sleep changes. …
  • Anger or irritability. …
  • Loss of energy. …
  • Self-loathing. …
  • Reckless behavior

More importantly, for the purpose of this article, what does depression look like at work?

  • Uncooperative…
  • Unmotivated…
  • Bad attitude…
  • Low productivity..

…just to name a few. I want to suggest that everything you read about toxic co-workers is probably also what depression looks like at work. Untreated depression in an empowered person is hell – many of us know that scenario SOO well! But I want to suggest here that you can be some help. Just a concerned acknowledgement may be all that’s necessary to help an adult recognize the demon and take steps to get back to a better place. And since I am not an advocate of pharmaceuticals myself and have relied for years on safer alternatives, there are tools for everyone in this scenario. But recognition is the first step and all of us can be active participants!

Designing Therapy Spaces: A Series to Enlighten and Delight

Saul Robbins Photography

Saul Robbins Photography

You’ve finally snagged a great new office space and you’re ready to move in but your momentum hits a roadblock. There isn’t much research on what constitutes healing spaces and there is little training in the halls of higher education for aspiring therapists and healers entering the field of healthcare. So it should come as no surprise that designing physical environments where therapy is conducted is often left to chance. The frightening news is that the few studies that have been done find that the competence and character of a practitioner are often judged based on the physical office spaces they occupy! People actually had opinions about qualifications based on pictures of offices!!! So it appears important for those in the health care profession to take heed – your income and the success of your business seem to depend on how well you appoint your office space.

Apparently your clientele is basing their initial perception of your work on the formality of your space and diplomas posted on your walls – this is extremely important. Your professional space should also support and empower the service provider.

You would think that clutter needn’t be mentioned when discussing a work space that invites clients inside but apparently that isn’t the case. If you are one that has less than tidy paperwork habits, I suggest another space to spread out or a desk that can be closed off behind doors. This rates a giant ‘no confidence’ for clients and will likely lose you business. So comfort is defined as orderly, warm, nurturing yet formal.

This being the first installment of the series, we’re looking at the larger picture. On the macro level, the space should be a reflection of your values and your philosophy of caring for your clients. The space – the room itself, the building, and even the approach to the building should allow for client privacy.

The Feng Shui of the seating is an interesting dilemma – the power position faces the exit however that is also a safety concern for many so ideally both patient and therapist have the door in their sight line whenever possible. Being able to move the seating (non-fixed) is also a great advantage and every piece of seating needs to be supportive and comfortable.

Next time, we’ll discuss decor and by the end of the series,  we’ll also have looked at color theory, lighting, stimulation levels, and seasonal flair. Part 2 is here: https://healingconsortium.com/2015/01/19/designing-therapy-spaces-part-two/

Chipotle Inspiration

There it was- on the bag in front or me. And I wasn’t prepared for it to actually make me feel good but it did 🙂 Here it is for others to enjoy:

It’s easy to get discouraged by the ceaseless news of violence, poverty, and disease. But the news presents a distorted view of the world. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. You never see a TV crew reporting that a country isn’t at war; or that a city hasn’t had a mass shooting that day, or that millions of 80 year-olds are alive and well. The only way to appreciate the state of the world is to count. How many incidents of violence, or starvation, or disease are there as a proportion of the number of people in the world? And the only way to know whether things are getting better or worse is to compare those numbers at different times: over the centuries and decades, do the trend lines go up or down? As it happens, the numbers tell a surprisingly happy story. Violent crime has fallen by half since 1992, and fiftyfold since the Middle Ages. Over the past 60 years the number of wars and number of people killed in wars have plummeted. Worldwide, fewer babies die, more children go to school, more people live in democracies, more can afford simple luxuries, fewer get sick, and more live to old age. “Better” does not mean “perfect.” Too many people still live in misery and die prematurely, and new challenges, such as climate change, confront us. But measuring the progress we’ve made in the past emboldens us to strive for more in the future. Problems that look hopeless may not be; human ingenuity can chip away at them. We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naive to work towards a better one.

Becoming More Powerful

Wonder_WomanMost women in a patriarchal society have a difficult time accepting that they are indeed more powerful than they’ve allowed themselves to believe and that mastering personal power is a conscious choice. We have been conditioned since birth to do many things very well, but few of us are terribly challenged by society’s expectations. But the problem of mastering your power is not limited exclusively to women and both genders have equal opportunity to educate themselves with the latest research and begin to explore the full capacity of their potential.

Self-help literature has cited examples and techniques for decades but it’s only been in the last 25 years, with the explosion of brain science and the study of brain neuroplasticity, that there is measurable evidence that we really are in control of our own destinies. Ann Cuddy’s remarkable research at Harvard, presented to the world thru a wildly popular TedTalk Psychology of Power , began with the question “Can you fake it till you make it?” Her research indicates that power is not moderated by gender and that hormones – and thus enthusiasm, confidence, lack of awkwardness, and physical health – can change with body postures. You can actually become more powerful through physiological changes in your body simply by power posing!!! 

I know we all tend to be a bit lazy but this information is so incredibly radical that we really can’t afford to ignore it. Body language has previously been looked at with regard to what was being communicated, but Ms. Cuddy’s research looks at the psychology of power from the point of view of nonverbal behavior. So where we are in the pecking order informs our hormones!! Those at the top have higher testosterone and lower cortisol – more power and less stress! And the way we demonstrate power in our culture with expansive movements that cover space with expressions of joy and pride are shown to be hardwired in us being the same in both sighted and non-sighted individuals!

So we have been given a road map here for becoming your true self, the self you want to be. But instead of relying on your personal strength and trusting your instincts which can be really tough, you can become more powerful through physiological changes in your body. It then becomes self-reinforcing.

Full details about Ann’s TedTalk can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en  and it’s also important to note that 80% of all yoga asana are power poses while all asana are self-nurturing.

So she asserts that

  • our bodies change our minds
  • our minds change our behavior
  • our behavior changes outcomes

So this leads me to ponder why any of us would not want to be an influencer. It brings us full circle to the culture in which we live. Not everyone can be  the alpha and since being the top of the heap changes you physiologically, reinforcement comes organically. We are all leading the life we want to be leading and if not, what is it you believe about yourself that’s getting in your way? Why are you negotiating your power and with whom? Being OK with the way things are right now (as some Buddhists might assert) doesn’t mean you can’t harness more power to be of service in more positive ways. Don’t kid yourself about what you want in order to protect a social order designed by others. If life was perfect here, we wouldn’t need you to step up but…. that’s not the case now, is it.

 

When Form and Function Merge

thW20GIA1ZEveryday we are faced with choices. What to eat, what to purchase, how to move between activities. We consciously or unconsciously decide how the world views us and where to put our energy. Seeing these decisions as opportunities to not only satisfy function but to feed you aesthetically can make the difference between a life filled with stuff and a lifestyle designed to support what you want.  A lifestyle filled with beauty is yours for the taking. It’s simply a perspective change.

Whether we realize it or not, most of us like to surround ourselves with not only physical elements that support our work and lifestyle but that make us feel good at the same time.  A blanket keeps us warm but we may have the good fortune to choose not only a warm blanket but one that is beautiful as well. A piece of music can fill the air but a beautiful piece of music supports us emotionally as well. There are a million pants in the world – which ones have you chosen that tell the world who you are?

Perhaps you’ve never thought of yourself as a terribly creative person. Maybe you’ve talked yourself into the mindset that none of this matters. But this is like saying your life lived in a grey box would be the same as one filled with sunsets and a pet. Take an inventory. You, equipped with an education and the prosperity to own a computer, can change any aspect of who you are and what the world thinks of you. All the obstacles are simply in your mind.

The choice is always ours – you are leading the life you want whether you realize it or not. Your form is dictated by how you choose to function.

The Grounded Lifestyle

We’ve all been there, whether it’s part of your cycle, the weather, the family, or just overwhelm. It’s difficult to focus, you lose everything not physically attached to your body, your eating patterns are disrupted….life just isn’t bouncing along the way you want it to. And, unfair as it is, some constitutions find it far easier than others to remain focused and grounded. Others are thrown off by windy weather, changing seasons, missed meals, and erratic schedules. Reviewing this with some wise women the other day, I was reminded how easy it is to forget and how important it is for all of us to remember:

  • take time each morning for seated or walking meditation, prayer, or reflection
  • lying or sitting close to the earth for a short time is always optimal
  • eat legumes, unprocessed grain, meat and root vegetables
  • listen more than you speak
  • walking, especially in a pine forest or amongst trees
  • maintain a regular routine of eating, yoga chi gong or tai chi, and sleeping
  • go to bed by 10pm each night and awaken with the sun
  • limit use of electronics, especially after dinner
  • practice mindfulness
  • keep emotions in check – avoid doubt, fear, resentment, and anger
  • avoid prescription and recreational drugs and alcohol
  • get regular massage and bodywork
  • practice mindfulness as a walking meditation, in the garden, cleaning house
  • surround yourself with masters – in person, podcasts, or recordings
  • practice compassionate loving kindness
  • take inventory and make changes if necessary
  • find a way to be of service on a regular basis
  • develop a daily ritual of caring for yourself
  • make friends with your spirit guides and ask for help when you need it
  • maintain a creative outlet – whatever flips your switch

This isn’t a definitive list, just someplace to start the conversation with yourself. There are probably many other techniques – feel free to share yours.

Female Transformation In A Patriarchal Society

Ya know, you hafta kIMG_1195eep your sense of humor on this subject, right? Otherwise, it gets pretty overwhelming being a woman here on Planet Earth. I want to be able to tell you young beauties that it will change soon but the best I can say is that it is changing – slowly. So coping strategies are the best we can hope for in an article like this. And some of my hard learned lessons should help you as well.

  • Some guys will never get it so just try to steer clear of them. Their clubs are close by!
  • It’s not your job to educate everyone but to gently nudge along the willing!
  • Sometimes it’s other women that are the most resistant to the idea that you’re as smart and capable as a man.  Some man told them so and he’s always right.
  • Some guys are sensitive and caring and could become super allies. Keep an eye out for them and do your best to not alienate as they learn even better ways to help women.
  • Most of the systems in our culture are skewed toward the entitled, right-handed, white male with money. Work within those parameters but never abandon the goal of equality.
  • Equality doesn’t mean eliminating the problem (men), it’s defined as having equal access.
  • Many women have spent a lifetime and lost their lives so you can wear a bathing suit in public and choose your own mate- never forget that!
  • A life in service is a noble thing but work toward a cause and not simply to prop up a man.
  • When choosing a mate, watch how he treats his mom and sisters. It says a lot.
  • If you’re reading this and are actively dating, I suggest you do a whole lot more homework before proceeding as this is a completely different category of nonsense although I would say categorically to avoid sugardaddie.com
  • Tread carefully!