Force no pain away

This is an edited post I wrote in July of 2018. As I have decided to take an August sabbatical from writing new content while finishing my YTT certification, I am reading and editing some pieces from my 2018 archive. Hope you enjoy! 

One of my favorite guided meditations is spoken by Sarah Blondin on Insight Timer called “I would like to give you permission.” It is about the ways in which we tend to hide our true selves from the world, and I think it was originally recorded for the Live Awake podcast.

Sometimes we have a good reason we hide our true selves (Martha Beck would call this the essential self vs the social self). Most of the time it is because we have been taught to act “appropriately” or to hide our feelings. These are often well-intentioned pieces of advice, but they may not serve our highest good.

live awake
Link to the live awake podcast

There is a line in this particular meditation that moves me: “Force no pain away, for it is all conspiring to bring you home.” What I like about this is the fact that we must embrace our feelings, admit them to ourselves, in order to be fully human. To push them away, or not to acknowledge our sadness, pain or discomfort, is to run away from our experience. We often do this in an attempt to be more positive, or because we think we should not experience negative emotions.

But emotions are just vibrations in the body, and we are likely to experience about half and half, positive and negative. It is the contrast between these emotions that makes joy so sweet. There is nothing wrong with us when we experience sadness or grief. These are normal and appropriate parts of being human. Getting angry at injustice can help us realize when we need to take action, for example.

When I consider how my emotions bring me home to myself, and I understand what thoughts drive these emotions, I fully claim my experience. There is no need for denial or resistance of these feelings. Indeed they provide the compass for a live well lived.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Workplace Wellness – from Gallup

This week I am going a little “light” on the writing. I am preparing for YTT weekend number 5, and trying to get set up for a good experience.

I read an article from Gallup New entitled: Your Boss Could Be Bad — or Good — for your Health. I decided I really must share it, because Gallup is reputable organization that does good and validated research. Someday maybe toxic workplaces will be considered a public health risk.

This article focuses on the value of trust in workplaces. This is something I always want to promote, trust and trust-worthiness among my teams and colleagues. The Gallup article explains why.

boss Gallup article
Straight stolen from the Gallup article

If you are not working in a place that feels safe, and that values your strengths, consider working with a coach to help you find alternatives to your current situation. My own coach (Elizabeth) helped me see how my values need to be represented in my work setting in order to feel fulfilled each day.

Wow, am I ever glad she was there to help me articulate those ideas in a new way. It has helped me see what I need to feel happy and well.

Have a wonderful “hump” day! Enjoy the midweek and mid-summer.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Workplace Wellness – Ask for help

The following is an edited post from August 2018 originally entitled “Wellness Wednesday – Ask for help.” Since I am in the second week of my new job, it seems like a good reminder to myself! 

Do you find it hard to ask for help? 

I confess that this is something I am still need to practice. I was taught very well to always be helpful. But I did not often ask for help. And it can take me time to admit to myself when I need help, and to ask and receive it.

But asking for help can be a way to honor other people and allow them to connect with us in a meaningful way. Once I started thinking of it this way, it seemed that asking for help is actually like giving someone a gift. 

When we ask for help we indicate that we trust and respect another person. We express our belief in their capability. Most of the time, people who can help us are happy to help us. Think about the last time you responded to a request. Did you feel good about helping? Most of us do. (Unless the request is unreasonable or feels imposed, but that is another scenario).

help
Photo credit link

It can feel vulnerable to ask for help. We must admit we don’t have it all together, or we do not know something. I am starting to get over this as I realize we all need help from time to time. There is no shame in it, and potentially we deepen the connections in our relationships.

Sometimes we worry that if we ask, a person will say no and reject the request. I have found that if I ask sincerely and from a place of gratitude, more often than not, I receive help. It helps to be specific about the request and to always thank the giver.

I also learned that asking out loud is a better option than mentally projecting your requests to someone. This is truly OBVIOUS. And sometimes I have made the mistake of assuming others (like my husband) could read my mind and would know what I wanted. Nope. We must use our words, and express requests out loud. I realize not everyone here has grown up in passive-aggressive Minnesota where this tends not to be modeled.

Perhaps we want to stubbornly do things ourselves, and we feel a sense of failure if we ask for help. Perhaps we were taught that strong and capable people do not need help, or this is the message we absorbed in our youth. In any case, it is time let go of our fear and to embrace a new belief and a new practice!

WORKPLace wellness on wednesdays

Graciously asking for and receiving help is a practice that can enhance our relationships and allow us to focus on our strengths. If you are new to it, take it in stages, and start small. You may be surprised at what you discover and how much more capable you feel by inviting your community to be part of your success.

Next time you are struggling, know you are not alone. Use it as an invitation to ask a coworker for what you need or want. Be brave, and be thankful. We do not have to go it alone.

cristy@meximinnesota.com

 

 

TBT – Inviting yourself back

This is an edited post originally written in April 2018. It is even more relevant as I learn to embody these concepts through soma yoga, and coach using somatic awareness as a tool for accessing inner wisdom.

One of my favorite meditations from Insight Timer is by Anna Guest-Jelly called “May I Know What I Know.” It involves a body scan in which we are moved through body starting with the feet, and moving through each region. After the exercise, we consider if there are any places we could not feel, that may have been “offline” from our awareness, so to speak.

emotions body
Photo credit link

The more I practice this body awareness and deliberately tune into places in the body that may be mysterious, the more I tune into my emotions. Sometimes I realize why there are “frozen” parts – those emotions may be difficult ones, like grief or anger.

I am still learning to feel those emotions all the way through, and sit with them without trying to escape. It is an exercise in compassion and patience to realize I have habitually escaped those feelings, or pushed them under with distraction, food, or other buffers (like busy-ness or overwork) rather than to be still with them.

Now that I realize these feelings are an important emotional compass, I have begun to “invite myself back” more often. I tune into that channel – my gut, my shoulders, my back, sometimes my lower spine, when they are trying to tell me something. Rather than get lost in thought, and spinning mental energy, I aim to come back to the body, invite my whole self back.

This tendency to abandon the body and thus abandon ourselves is promoted by our culture. Feeling our emotions and tuning into our intuition often dismissed. But as I do it more, I acknowledge the many times when I have buried my own desires in favor of pleasing other people.

caring
Photo credit link

Women are well-conditioned to attend to others’ needs. We take care of partners, children, bosses, teammates, even parents sometimes. But we do not always attend to our own bodies, our own yearnings. I inadvertently learned (from family and culture) that I should ignore my own needs in favor of taking care of others. This abandonment does not serve us long-term though.

Even the airlines tell us to put on our own mask before helping others. Inviting ourselves back can feel like a radical act of rebellion for women. Patriarchy demands we attend to the comfort of our family members, remain small and and of service, never demanding anything for ourselves. And yes, I think it is patriarchy that promotes this idea of the “good daughter” and it is one we must dismantle.

When we invite ourselves back, we ground ourselves in our truth. We allow ourselves to live in greater harmony with nature, and with our bodies. We begin to understand the connected nature of all people, of all parts of the universe. We feel compassion for ourselves and for others in their struggles. We make different choices that are more sustainable for ourselves. We serve others with a spirit of generosity rather than resentment.

Inviting ourselves back means we set appropriate boundaries. We say no to things that do not align with our purpose or intention. That can be very hard for those of us who were trained to say “yes” to everything we are asked to do. We can be perceived as “uppity” or trouble-makers, or not those nice girls we used to be.

It is a daily practice, inviting ourselves back. It does not simply happen one day, and then all things change. It is a conscious choice, a habit that grows easier with regular practice. If we want to make sustainable change in the world, I believe it is non-negotiable. The world needs our whole and integrated selves. Our souls call for this as well.

Consider inviting yourself back today. Center on what your body is telling you. See what emerges as you learn to pay attention in this way.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

The Just Right Stimulus

I have been learning a concept in yoga teacher training that is getting me to rethink how I approach the activities in my day. It is the notion of the “just right stimulus” when it comes to doing yoga poses, or deciding how to modify them for optimal benefit.

Since yoga aims mobilize, stabilize and strengthen our bodies, we must apply certain principles to achieve those goals. The idea is that when we receive that just right stimulus, we can increase the mobility of our joints, we can stabilize and align our spine and further, strength our body and optimize our health.

Willy and the spinal strip.jpg
My cat Willy likes to use my therapeutic spinal strip as a cat toy. Apparently he finds it to be an irresistible stimulus and cannot seem to stay away from it when I leave it within reach.

When we overdo a stretch or push our bodies too hard, injuries develop over time. In contrast, when we under-use our bodies, neglecting the mobility of our joints, or losing the strength in our muscles and bones by not moving enough, our body can atrophy. We then become less physically capable over time.

Our minds are like this too. When we are constantly “on” – doing, thinking, absorbing, seeking input and running around, we can become over-stimulated. As someone who is neuro-diverse with variable focus, this can be all too easy to do. In contrast, becoming too passive, such as vegging out in front of the t.v. for hours at a time, or allowing our minds become listless and dull, does not serve us. It then will required more energy to focus, think and be purposeful in our actions if we develop a habit of mental passivity.

Our bodies and souls need periods of activity and rest to stay in their optimal condition. These cycles vary from hour to hour, day to day and even month to month, seasonally and in the various phases of our lives. Indeed psychiatrist Dan Siegel coined the term “window of tolerance” to describe the optimal arousal of our nervous system.

In cultivating resilience in ourselves, it is important to develop some internal sensing of when we are not too hot, not too cold, but just right (remember Goldilocks and the three bears?)  Stephen Porges, PhD called this “neuroception” in his exploration of Polyvagal Theory, which helps us understand how safe states are sensed, and how the social engagement system can help us self-regulate.

When we go about our daily life, we find that we move in and out of the optimal state and this is a normal part of living. What is important is that we find ways to get ourselves back to more balance so that we can bring our full presence and engagement into our relationships and our work.

There are many practices that can help us with this. I will be exploring some that I find particularly beneficial in the next couple of weeks as I prepare to deliver a workshop on the neuroscience of resilience for a local client. I hope they will be helpful to you as well!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com