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

Connecting women

There is powerful energy created when women with similar journeys and struggles connect and share stories with each other. It is a combination of relief and joy when we realize we are not alone.

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I witnessed this in my learning circle on Monday night, and I was inspired to consider how fascinating it is that we connected, and all of our commonalities. I am also pondering how best to facilitate some practices that can help us stay grounded and centered along the journey.

Of course, y’all know I’m an evangelist for meditation and yoga, so we will explore some simple practices that I have found to be particularly helpful. I am also requesting that they commit to some small daily action, with the support of the group, to help build and maintain their ability to show up at their best, at home, work or in the community.

Since this is the first time I have offered this series, we will see where it goes. But for now, I am so honored and grateful that these amazing women have elected to join me in staying open to learning practices that will support their growth.

Onward,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Throwback Thursday: B minus work

This week’s edited piece is from a post I did back in December 2017. As I get ready to meet some deadlines for writing projects, it is a great reminder to just get the work drafted.

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To those of you who are waiting for your blogs to be perfect to publish them, here is some advice I got originally from Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School podcast. Do B minus work, but get it started ahead of time. It echoes advice I have received from other authors like Anne Lamott and Brene Brown: settle for shitty first drafts the first time out (SFD’s – aka stormy first drafts).

This is great advice for those of us who suffer from perfectionism. Often we procrastinate because we worry about our idea not being good enough or our final product not being polished enough. This is especially true for women, it seems, so we delay holding up our hand when we already know the answer.

We may need to practice greater confidence when it comes to starting things. Just getting started, and getting it out, we overcome the “activation energy” it takes to get the momentum moving. For me as a writer, I seldom struggle for a topic. Give me a topic and I can rattle on all day about it if you want.

But when it comes to telling a story or constructing an argument effectively, I know it takes me more time to get it right. Even if the words flow out, and they typically do when I give myself uninterrupted time to write, the final product is not complete.

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It is best when I allow the words to flow and not worry too much about structure or ultimate form of a piece. When it comes to blogging, it is inherently a shorter form. I struggle with not going on for TOO long, so I often write a first version during half an hour in the afternoon and then return to edit in the morning when I am fresh.

At that point, I typically add graphics, correct grammar, perhaps cut out sections or paragraphs or sentences that wander and make sure the idea makes sense.

Not worrying too much about the reception of an idea is another way to get the work out there quickly. We can only know what is in our own minds, not what will resonate with others. So it is best not to worry and obsess about what they want, and focus instead of what we want to say (despite my recent worry about this).

What I realize now is that my blog has become a place where I can try out ideas, play around with stories I find interesting, or concepts I am trying out in my life. I have nothing specific to “sell” out here, and sometimes I have gotten useful feedback on my ideas.

The practice of sitting down once or twice a day and getting those ideas onto the screen has helped me clarify some of the questions I ask myself. Over time, the answers get refined, and the focus gets clarified.

If I do not start with B minus work, there is no opportunity to shape and polish it to become “A” work. But one of the great secrets to adulthood is that there are no grades anymore. We do not have to rely on others’ evaluations of us to be successful.

Every day we can decide how we want to assess our own success, and the quality of our days. That is probably the best news ever. If we can be kind to ourselves and acknowledge that we did the best we could for that day, it is always enough.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Plummeting views – was it something I said?

Hiya WordPress peeps,

It seems a bit strange but I noticed last week that my overall views of my blog plummeted rather precipitously and suddenly around August 11th after some steady climbing in the last few weeks. At first I did not take it too hard – people are on summer vacations, after all. They have important things to do, and since I write for myself, I did not worry about it.

Then I thought: is this related to the policy change on Facebook, where there is no longer auto-posting enabled for our blog posts?

Being the stats-oriented person that I am and curious about this change, I opted to do a little research on this issue. I looked as the “referrers” to the page and realized that the number coming from FB is actually quite a bit smaller than from WordPress.

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Page stats for readership of meximinnesota blog

I also realize that when I am around more (and not traveling) I like to engage in more reading and commenting on others’ blogs. This is great for connecting with others with whom we share interests and passions. It also helps us discover new sources of knowledge and writers we respect.

I discovered that when I write short and concise pieces (less than 500 words), I get more views and likes. This is obviously related to our short attention spans and our expectation that blogs are short and to the point. It is part of this medium that we do not want to spend large amounts of time on any one “read.” I get that.

I know there are algorithms used by various sites in order to “serve up” content based on search terms and other sophisticated uses of SEO. So I am patiently deciding whether to put any thought into this, or just to let go. It may be that I discontinued the WordAds for a few weeks as an experiment. Maybe that affects view stats as well.

Seasons change, and priorities change. I love this medium for helping me hone the discipline to produce writing regularly, quickly and efficiently. And I love the connections I have made here and the community I have found. I shall let go of any “ego trip” around this blog and let it be what it is.

To those of you who comment regularly, thanks so much! You keep me motivated, and I am grateful for your support of my work.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

What makes the most sense?

When you start your work day or your work week, do you ever ask yourself: What makes the most sense? It may be a good way to clarify your objective in any given moment or hour of the day.

Do you ever consider what time of the day you work best?

(I am going to answer for myself in the parentheses below the questions: yes, morning. My best work happens before noon.)

Do you plan your time so that (if you are a morning person like me) you accomplish your most important work at that “best time”?

(Yes. Most of the time that works well. In my corporate job, it did not work as well, because I had to be sure to be available to my team at certain times, and morning was the time the most probably intersections.)

Do you spend multiple hours checking and responding to email?

(I used to do this. It took up WAY too much time and required me to refocus far too many times in the day to get to my “deep work” tasks as much as I wanted.)

Are you able to put aside distractions such as social media, email and other items while you are trying to complete your most important work? 

(It is truly tempting to have the social media “open” during the work day but I realized this was a recipe for disaster. So now I define times I will do that, usually during a break between harder tasks, before/after lunch break or at the end of the day when my brain is shot anyway.)

These are some questions I am using for my own self-coaching as I begin to work for myself, and launch a successful consulting practice. If they can be helpful to you as well, awesome! If you have some other coaching questions you like to ask yourself for helping to focus on working effective, I would love it if you share them with me. 

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Cheers & happy Monday!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

5 thousand hits!

Thank you, readers!  I just exceeded 5 thousand hits on my blog yesterday! It’s been an incredible journey since September. Now, 250 blog posts later, I am grateful for your support and encouragement as I write and process my life’s journey.

Since it is “Wellness Wednesday” I will mention one small tip on gratitude which has had profound impact on my life and wellness since I started it. Every day think of at least one or two things for which you are grateful (as I am practicing today by thanking you in this blog).

Practicing gratitude has benefits that have been proven benefits to your overall well-being. When you orient your mind toward what you are thankful for, it changes your mindset. Many people like to write these things down, and I encourage that as well, though it is not absolutely necessary. When you are new to the practice, having a small notebook where you write things down can help get you into the habit. Once you do this for 60-90 days, it will become nearly automatic, which is the goal.

You can include your gratitude practice as part of your meditation, if you meditate on a regular basis. Start with a few deep breaths and direct your mind toward people, experiences, even things that you possess, for which you are grateful. Let your mind send love and feel gratitude for this

Alternatively, when you are struggling, take a moment to focus instead of what is going right rather than what is going wrong. This skill takes a little more practice than just starting the day with gratitude. But it can also change your mindset at time when you need it.

If you do not already have a daily gratitude practice, try it out for just one week and see how it changes your attitude, your mood and your life.

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You are the best readers, and I really love it when you leave comments. This is such a  creative and interactive community. Love and peace to you all!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com