Tag Archives: Relax

Inspiration From A Child

As children we look to adults to teach us what we need to know in the world.  And why wouldn’t we – adults have life experience so they can show us how to succeed without having to repeat painful lessons.  At least that’s the theory behind it.  We all know it doesn’t always play out quite so neatly.  But regardless, the point is, it is a one-way street.  A one-directional exchange.  Children learn from adults.  Yet, as an adult, if you spend any amount of time with children you will find them to be an incredible source of inspiration unto themselves.

Case and point:  I often spend time with my best friend’s ten-year old daughter – sometimes it is as little as 10-15 minutes while other times it can be a few hours.  And each and every time I am in awe of what I take away even from just watching and listening…here’s just a few areas I have found inspiration through her:

  1. Seemingly endless curiosity: As adults we grow tired of the continual rounds of “why?” and “how come?” that children tend to throw at us because we don’t have time for those questions – there is always so many more important things to do. Yet for a child, understanding the world around them is all there is, hence the endless “why?” and “how come?” questions.  They seek to know and understand – and in a lack of information or answers, their creativity (another example I mention below) takes over in an attempt to use what they do know about their world to explain this new thing they don’t yet understand.  How inspiring it is to see such an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and understanding, for curiosity about the world around them.  Think how we could benefit from having some of that curiosity in our own lives each day as adults.
  2. No worries about what others think: With technology and social media being such a staple part of their norm, young children have no problem making videos of themselves and posting on Musically, You Tube, etc. They don’t worry about what others will think about their hair or their clothes.  They aren’t concerned about whether they stumbled over their words or not.  They just have fun making whatever video they have decided to make.  Meanwhile the thought of using FB live or Periscope is paralyzing to me as I find myself worrying about how it would sound, what I will look like, saying “um” too many times, what people would think of the content, if I even have anything worthwhile to share in the first place…I could go on, but you get the idea.  So many of us could benefit from learning how to relax and just have fun with stuff like this from our young friends.  Think of all the things we don’t do as adults out of fear of what others will think – clearly this an area to find inspiration from young children.
  3. Boundless creativity: Have you ever had a child tell you a story they have made up? Did you marvel at where they came up with half of the stuff in the story?  It seems as if their creativity has no limits.  They are not bound by what is real, what they can touch or see, or feel.  Literally, if they can think of it then it can exist in their young minds.  Just sit back and watch young children in free play sometime and you will be amazed at the incredible amount of creativity you see.  It is one of the most inspiring things I have ever witnessed.  For anyone who has ever struggled to be or feel creative, just sit in the presence of children for even a short period of time and I promise you, you will feel inspired and creative.

The exchange between adults and children shouldn’t be so one directional. We can learn so much from children. Children just do what they do.  There are none of the external worries or cares that we have picked up as adults.  (How we as a society strip our young children of these beautiful attributes so that they grow up to be overly serious, stressed out adults who worry entirely too much about things is a subject for another day perhaps.)  Children serve as such wonderful examples of what it can look like to be present in the moment.  We really should pay a bit more attention to the inspiration we can garner from the young ones in our lives.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is about.”- http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com

The Power of No

Danielle LaPorte says it so perfectly – No makes way for yes.

We live in a society of that feeds off an intense need for instant gratification and a fear of missing out. A society in which saying no is virtually out of the question. Saying no means you might miss out on something really big or it could very well result in a loss of or lack of something in your life.  You simply can’t say no and expect to live a full life…or so a rather vocal segment of our modern society would have us believe.  And let’s not forget that we, as a society, judge our level of success by how “busy” we are.  The more things you say yes to the busier you are, the more successful you are, right?  So again, saying no just can’t possibly be an option.

But here’s the harsh reality – unless you say the word no, at least on occasion, you can and will lose the ability to say yes at some point, very possibly at the moment when you really want/need to say yes. Why? Because you are human and can’t do it all.  Because there are only so many hours in a day.  Because no matter how close you get to being perfect, you still can’t be solely responsible for accomplishing everything that needs to be done at home, at work, and everywhere else in between.  It just isn’t possible.  You just cannot say yes all the time.

And let’s be clear – those are merely the facts as they exist, they do not represent a failure on your part. There’s no judgment. There is only the stone-cold reality that when we say yes too often we eventually reach a point when yes can’t possibly be the answer anymore.  If you are always saying yes you will inevitably reach the point where you cannot physically fit anything more into your schedule…into your life…and so it is then that no has to be the answer.  Something has to go before anything else can be added.  Quite a conundrum when faced with the opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do, but you can’t because of all the other things you previously said yes to (things that you may not even really care about).

And who does it hurt? Let’s be honest here – primarily you. And while overcommitting on your part can create problems for others as well, by and large you are the one who suffers from your inability to say no.  So what is the answer?  How do we find a balance between saying yes and saying no?

The key is to set and honor boundaries for yourself. If you follow any of Brené Brown’s work then you are likely familiar with this statement from her on the importance of boundaries, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Your time, your health, your sanity, your talents, etc. are important so you need to be mindful of your “Yes’s and No’s” such that you are honoring your wants, needs, desires, and limitations.  Again, it is not about any kind of  failure on your part, rather it is about being honest with yourself and not overcommitting.  Saying no on occasion to things that don’t feel right, don’t resonate, don’t align with your personal mission is not only okay, it is essential to being able to say yes to all things that are meaningful to you.  Commit to the things that light you up, to the things you are passionate about.  Don’t say yes out of guilt or some misguided sense of obligation to someone else.  Say yes because it means something to you.  If you do that, not only will you find that you are no longer overcommitted, but you will also find yourself in a place of great joy and happiness.

Oh The Holidays…

As the song The Twelve Pains of Christmas points out in its own humorous way, not everything about the holidays is merry and bright.  There are those things that we find to be stressful and frustrating.  And let’s face it, the holidays bring up many emotions – not all of the emotions are ones we enjoy experiencing, especially during a celebratory time like the holidays.

So how do we get through the holidays if our experience with them is filled with anxiety, anger, or angst?  How can you learn to be on the offensive and not the defensive?  How can you see the holidays as not just a challenging time, but also as an opportunity for growth, change, and healing?  How can you learn to be present in the moments such that you are grateful and enjoy yourself?

In general, being honest with yourself so you can clearly identify your triggers along with a willingness to see things differently are keys to a successful emotional shift.  Having a few tips and tricks up your sleeve when you head into those otherwise stressful holiday situations can also make all the difference.

  • If family togetherness is more than you care to handle, try these ideas:
  1. Prepare yourself before you go – in many cases the things that upset us the most with our family are things that happen every time we are together, so expect it and don’t hold on to it. Let it go as soon as it comes.
  2. See those family members who push your buttons through the eyes of love – remember they are doing the best they can given where they are on their own journey, and while that doesn’t always take away the sting of some of their comments it can help you release those things rather than hold on to them unnecessarily.
  3. Don’t take things personally, rather be filled with compassion – they may be struggling with their own feelings about the holidays or other things in their lives and as such may not be able to relate to others in a kind or loving way. Develop and use a mantra, such as “I am love, you are love”, to help you release those things when they happen.
  • Crowds not your thing? Try these tricks:
  1. Do some deep breathing or meditation before you head into a crowded place – get yourself to as calm and centered a state as possible before you enter the stressful situation.
  2. Have a strategy to do what you need to do in that crowded place and then leave – a little pre-planning is invaluable at times like this. Get in, do what you came there for, and get out – there’s no need to stay any longer than necessary as it will only add to the stress of the situation.
  3. Consider alternatives – do you have to go to that crowded place, or can you go somewhere else? Do you have to go at a specific time or can you go at a less crowded time? Consider all your options – don’t just do something because it is what you have always done or is what everyone else does.
  • If you get frustrated with that crazy, busy schedule created by all the holiday happenings you have to attend, then try these tips:
  1. Learn to say no when you can – it is tempting to say yes to all the holiday get togethers but your sanity is important too so consider not going to everything you get an invitation for. Maybe alternate your attendance each year between the events you really enjoy and let the hosts of those events know you appreciate the invitation and plan to come next year if invited.
  2. Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them – honor yourself and your loved ones with boundaries that give you the time you need for yourself as well as for holiday festivities
  3. Get creative – if you are one of those lucky people with multiple family members to visit on any given holiday, think of creative ways to bring everyone together in one place (like maybe your house) instead of running to 3 and 4 places. In many cases your other family members will appreciate the opportunity to not have to be the host all the time – it can be a win-win for everyone.
  • Feeling miserable because of too much food (sugary and otherwise) at the holidays? Try these suggestions:
  1. Re-set your portion size for the holiday – knowing there will be many tempting foods to partake in, consider rethinking portion sizes so even if you eat more things than you planned, by eating smaller portions you have a better chance of not actually increasing the overall volume of food you intake.
  2. Sample rather than eat – use the holidays as a time to try things, which means samples not full blown meals or portions. It’s okay to try things, but we want to try not to overdo it.
  3. Love yourself no matter what happens – practice forgiveness. It is okay if you had more than you wanted to have – it is a special time of the year. Recognize what happened, accept and love yourself, and let tomorrow be a new day.
  • If you struggle with the “keeping up with the Jones” syndrome and get stressed trying to outdo your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues in the area of decorations, cookie making, gift giving, gift wrapping (you get the idea), then take a deep breath and consider these options:
  1. Let go of the need to compare – do what brings you joy, not what makes you the talk of the family, neighborhood, or office
  2. If you can’t let go of the competition, then give yourself permission to ask for help from friends or family to accomplish all these things you want to do-
  3. Consider how you can turn that competitive spirit into a positive force – think creatively about how to join forces with your “competitors” to do some amazing things for others this holiday season. Turn it into a little friendly competition that benefits others in the process.

Don’t dread the holidays – take them back on your own terms. Try some of these ideas and be open to enjoying your holidays a little more than maybe you have in the past. Make a few small changes in how you approach the holidays and who knows, you might actually have a happy holiday this year!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!!

Lessons

So I took a few weeks off from writing my blog. I just decided I had too much going on and something had to give. I also didn’t want to quickly write a blog post simply so I could say I published something every week like I have up to this point.  Instead I spent a few weekends, when I would otherwise do my blog writing, enjoying uninterrupted time with friends and family.  I set a boundary for myself and stuck to it.  It was some much needed recharging time for me.  But it was interesting how guilty I felt doing it.  That little ego voice in my head was quick to tell me I was a slacker and that if I were any good at organizing my time I could have gotten it done.  But you know what?  I stuck to my decision despite that voice and I learned some valuable lessons along the way too – lessons that have been recurring for me quite a bit over these past few months…

Lesson #1 – Let go of the need for perfection. This is a really tough one for me. I swear perfectionism in actually hard wired into my DNA.  But I am gradually learning that it really is okay to deviate from any plan you originally set for yourself.  In fact, if you allow for a little variation it can even result in creativity and growth opportunities.  A few lessons on the periphery of this one are forgiveness and acceptance.

Lesson #2 – Take things in stride and don’t let them bother you so much. Easier said than done, no? But that’s the goal.  That’s what we should work towards, right?.  Relax, breathe, and take one step at a time.  Things are seldom as bad as they initially appear.  Often we just need to take a little time to put them into the proper perspective.  The related lessons here are open-mindedness and flexibility.

Lesson #3 – Accept the interruptions of life…enjoy them and learn from them. Life is a never-ending journey filled with sharp curves, road blocks, and lots of construction. Whether you like it or not, it is going to be that way, so why not just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Subsequent, related lessons here include patience and being present.

I have heard it said that the universe continues to send things our way until we have learned the lesson intended for us.  I certainly can say from my own experience that is true, at times painfully so.  My desire for perfection and to maintain whatever standard I set for myself is often so rigid that I create quite a bit of suffering for myself – all of which is easily remedied when I step back, breathe, accept the present moment as an opportunity to learn & grow, and then simply let it all go.

What’s your area of growth opportunity?  What lesson is the universe still helping you to learn?  These are powerful reflection points, so don’t overlook the importance of spending some time pondering them.  Embrace the lessons coming to you.

“We repeat what we don’t repair.” – Christine Langley-Obaugh

 

Special Places

There are places in this world that just seem to resonate with us in ways we may not always be able to explain. These are the places that help us “find ourselves”. We usually refer to them as our “happy places”.  They are the places that often “feel like home” to us in ways that nowhere else does.  Time in those places help us to refocus, to remember what’s important in life, to reconnect with ourselves, and to relax.  We can’t wait to be in these places, and we absolutely hate to leave them, doing so usually while kicking and screaming (either literally or at the very least mentally).  We all have such a place.  It may be a physical address or building, or it may be some place more general like a tropical island or the mountains, but either way, we all have such a place.  Just pause for a moment, right now, close your eyes, and picture that place in your mind.  Recall how it makes you feel.  Just breathe it in for a moment.  Allow those feelings to come back to you in this moment of reflection.  It feels so good, doesn’t it?

For me, that special place is the beach. Any beach really, so long as it is warm. The feeling of the sand between my toes, the rhythmic sound of the ocean, the relaxing feel of the breeze on my face…these are some of the things about the beach that call to me.  Time there helps me to refocus my life, to remember what’s most important, to reconnect with myself and my dreams, to relax, and to re-establish that sense of calm in my life which I appreciate so much.

It is in these places and at these times when life gets a bit clearer and we start to see the areas of our life that could use a little adjustment. We can sit back, away from the normal daily chaos in our lives, and reflect on things like:

  1. What about my life is working right now? What about it do I really like?
  2. What about my life is not working right now? What about it do I not like so much?
  3. What am I willing to commit to in order to have more of what is working in my life/less of what is not working in my life?
  4. How do I keep this clarity about my life when I go back?
  5. What can I do differently in my daily life to maintain this feeling?

Maintaining the feelings, the clarity, and/or the calm that you experience in your special place can be accomplished after you leave that place, though a conscious effort is needed on your part. Taking the time to ask the questions listed above is a great place to start, but that is only the beginning. You have to actively work to make the changes you committed to once you return home.  You have to take the steps you identified when answering the 5 questions above in order to maintain the life you identified as desirable when you did that reflection.  With practice and perseverance, living that way will become your new habit, but until then you have to become aware of the times when you slip back into your old habits and then work diligently to pull yourself out of them.

Reflection for the purpose of awareness is the first step. Taking consistent action is the second step. Together you can create a life anywhere that resembles the one you have when you are in your special place.

Life’s Cyclical Flow

I read a short piece today from one of the required books for my Yoga teacher training course that beautifully captures a concept I have been trying to articulate for years and so I scrapped my original blog idea for this week so I could share this instead. It’s something I have tried numerous times to write about, but no matter how hard I tried I never really felt like I had captured the essence of the idea.

The concept I am referring to is that of how we have a tendency in our society to move from one thing right into the next without ever really being present, without ever really experiencing each individual moment or the time in between each thing that we are doing. But Rolf Gates describes it so well in his book, Meditations from the Mat. He begins by talking about the style of yoga he teaches (flow yoga).  In flow yoga you go from one yoga posture right into the next – one flows into the other seamlessly so the multiple postures are like one long posture and the breath and meditation remain unbroken throughout the practice.  But he points out that not all yoga styles are like that.  (In fact the style of yoga I have practiced all of my life is not like that.)  Neither way is right or wrong, but Rolf points out that there is an important lesson we can learn:

“…it is our tendency to pay attention to the postures themselves, but not to the spaces in between.  So it is in life.  We leave one relationship or job and set our sights on the next.  We cross one item off our to-do list and dive into the next chore.  The illusion is that the posture ends.  The reality is that the posture never ends, it just shifts from one form to the next, one lesson to the next, one opportunity to the next.  We remain life’s student whether we are inhaling or exhaling, in a relationship or out of one…” – Rolf Gates, Day 35, from Meditations from the Mat.

And while his analogy may speak more clearly to those of us who have done yoga at some point in our lives, the truth behind the message is relevant for all of us. We move from one thing in our lives to the next without taking the time to enjoy or appreciate the space in between those things. Often we plan to enjoy that space when we reach a certain point in our lives (after we are married, after we have kids, after we get that new job, after the kids are out of the house, after retirement, etc.), when instead we can and should be taking the time now to be in that space.  This rat race we call our daily lives takes such a toll on us – if only we would just slow down long enough to be in that space between the events in our lives, we would be so much the better for it.

My goal personally for the past several years has been to cultivate a practice that allows for a cyclical flow in which I pause to reflect and appreciate between the things I am doing in my life rather than rushing from one thing to the next. It is a practice, as is all things, but with practice I have gotten so much better at it wherein now I am pretty good at taking time to be in the space between the things happening in my life instead of rushing off to the next one. The result has been that I feel better, calmer, and I enjoy my days so much more.

Life truly is cyclical – the flow from one thing to the next, one day to the next, one goal to the next continues in what can become a vicious circle. But we have the ability to pause, breath, and experience the space in between, to slow things down and enjoy. If nothing else, take some time to celebrate and reflect on what you accomplished before going on to the next thing.  As Rolf Gates pointed out, we are all students of this life.  The question is what kind of student will we be?  How will you flow from one thing to the next in your own life?  As someone in the midst of this practice now, and as a former teacher, I would highly recommend taking the time to enjoy being a student of life.

The Many Wonders of Life

I am spending a lot of time traveling this weekend. Lots of time in airports and on planes. Lots of time to observe the many wonders of this world in which we live and the people with whom we share this space. And I am struck by the many wonders of this life that are right in front of us if we just take a moment to see them. So many beautiful and amazing things for which to be grateful.

As I sat in the different airports waiting on my various flights I have been treated to a sea of people around me who have given me so much to contemplate. A plethora of beautiful, amazing, unique people doing what they do, the only way they know how to do it. People from all over the world and from all walks of life. People of all shapes, sizes, and ages. All the different outfits – this alone was quite educational. All the different accents. All the different walks…literally, it was fascinating to watch all the ways in which people walk…some people have some pretty amazing swagger while others I worry will be able to make it ten feet without tripping over their own two feet. This is the miraculous stuff you can come to notice if you just take a moment to look. So many little things to observe while sitting in an airport. It truly is fascinating.

Just the mere thought of wrapping my brain around how many of us there are in this world is enough, let alone how similar and yet unique we all are – the airport as a microcosm of society as a whole.

I have watched the dynamics of families with young children traveling together, of older couples and newly weds, and of people on business trips. Toddlers having melt downs because delayed flights are not within the realm of their understanding. The creativity of school aged kids as they try to entertain themselves while they wait for their flight. The patience of some parents…and the lack of it from others. The number of people lost in their devices and the resulting lack of conversation among people traveling together. In a way, sitting here and observing all the people in the terminal is almost like having a front row seat for one of those wild reality shows. In a matter of moments you get a glimpse of all that humanity has to offer – love, compassion, kindness, patience, understanding, judgment, rudeness, arrogance, anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, sorrow, etc. Again, people doing and being what they know…the best they know how.

Then I boarded my plane. When I fly I prefer the window seat. I like being nestled in the row and being able to look out over the earth below. Talk about an amazing sight to behold. As I look down from 30,000 feet, how small everything looks. How insignificant. It is quite humbling. It really puts life into perspective. And it helps me reflect on just how incredible this world in which I live really is. The diverse landscapes and climate. The varied colors and landmarks. For me the time on planes goes by quickly as I become lost in my thoughts as I view the many sights on the other side of the window.

But then I have wonder how many other people traveling today took the time to reflect on these things. If I have to place a wager on the subject, I would guess it would be a very small number. Truth be told, not long ago I wouldn’t have noticed any of these things either. I used to be so easily caught up in the day-to-day trappings of life that I didn’t usually notice the people, places, and things all around me. And I think that is the place many people find themselves. I say that not as a statement of judgment, but rather as a matter of fact as it pertains to their current state of being or awareness. They too are doing what they do to the best of their ability to do it at this moment in time.

Then I arrived at my destination – a resort on the top of a mountain in Nevada. Words cannot fully express the beauty I am surrounded by here. The resort buildings tucked into the mountain so you can appreciate some of the most amazing views I have ever seen. Truly amazing. So much for the eyes to take in, and plan to spend the next few days walking the trails and soaking in the natural beauty of this incredible place. So much to be amazed by. So much to appreciate and give thanks for Internet this life.

Imagine just for a moment if we all would learn to see the amazing things that surround us everyday. I mean really see them for their incredible nature – really appreciate them, say thanks for them, feel them, embrace them, love them. What a game changer that would be. Talk about a powerful change in perspective.

What wonders of life are in front of you right now that you aren’t seeing? Your family? A beautiful blue sky? An incredible job? Amazing friends? Caring neighbors? Bountiful food? New opportunities? Vibrant colors? The ability to go places and see new things? Take a moment right now to pause and look around you. Give yourself permission to truly see all the amazing things, consider just how incredible they are, and be thankful to be fortunate enough to be here to experience and appreciate all of it

No Time To Stop

“It is nice finding that place where you can just go and relax.” – Moises Arias

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” – William S. Burroughs

Observation: there seems to be almost a fear of stopping and resting or relaxing in our society today. It seems to me that we have become a society that doesn’t know how to stop and smell the roses as the saying goes. We just don’t really ever stop, slow down, unwind, or relax.  Oh, we may physically go away on vacations, but we don’t really let go of our daily lives and all of the stressors in it just because we leave home for a few days.  We have our smartphones and devices with us all the time so we never really leave work or our hectic lives anymore.  We have notifications that pop up on our phones and grab our attention almost incessantly.  And there’s a constant buzz of stimuli and information coming at us every day, all day.  We are hyper-focused and wound tight practically all the time.

It’s no wonder people are so stressed and at their wits end much of the time. Needless to say this is not healthy of helpful for anyone, least of all ourselves.  Not being able to slow down and relax has an awful lot to do with why so many people are not sleeping well…why so many are sick and/or take a cocktail of medications on a regular basis…why so many people seem to be angry all the time…why we have so many relationship difficulties in our society.  It impacts virtually every aspect of our lives.

But if it has such a negative impact on us and our lives, why are we afraid to stop? Why do we fear resting, relaxing and letting go so much? We all say we desire it, but yet so many of us don’t…can’t do it, even when given an opportunity to do so.  What is driving this strange phenomena?

I believe it is any of a combination of things that we allow to take control of our decision making on a daily basis, the most common of them being the fear of missing out, the societal expectation that we should work hard now (there will be time to play and have fun later), being afraid to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts, and being afraid of other people judging us for not working hard enough/for taking the “easy route” in life.

I was definitely “waist deep” in this lifestyle up until a few years ago. I was focused on work practically all day, every day. My smartphone never left my side…and I checked it constantly.  I was stressed about or worried about practically everything you can think of.  Even when I went on vacation, I was still working, still checking my phone, still stressed.  Finally I reached a point where I wondered if it was all worth it.  For me the answer to that question was no, so I began to make some changes in my life.  And while I still have my moments on occasion, I have learned to stop, relax, rest, and take care of myself in such a way that I have learned to control most stressors in my life, plus I sleep well and it is very rare for me to be sick…basically I am a much happier and healthier person as a result.  So how did I do it?

Well, it wasn’t a fast or easy journey, let me me be clear about that right up front. But the first thing I had to do was make the decision that I no longer wanted my life to be controlled by stress, societal expectations, and anything else that resulted in negative emotional inputs or outputs. Sounds simple, just making a decision, but I had to get to the point where I was tired of being tired, stressed, sick, and always feeling like I was never going to have time to do the things I loved to do…the things that make me happy.  So deciding that “enough was enough” was my first step to freedom.

Then came sticking to my decision, again not so easy as society and life in general likes to test you on an almost daily basis. But I chose to incorporate strategies that helped me stay focused on my goal of learning to relax and rest and not allow external factors to control my choices reactions, and behaviors. Here are a few of the strategies I had success with personally:

  1. Affirmations, mantras, inspirational quotes…anything that inspired me and kept me focused – I kept my favorite ones with me so I would see them throughout the day. They reminded me of what I was trying to accompli–h and kept me on track on many occasions when I felt myself being pulled back in the other direction. They gave me the motivation when I was struggling.
  2. Vision board – hokey as it may sound, I made a vision board that illustrated what I wanted to achieve (the fun, relaxing things I wanted to be doing, how I wanted to feel, etc.) and I hung it where I could see it every day. When I felt stressed, irritated, or unable to slow down, I would just take a moment to look at my beautiful vision board. It serves as a powerful reminder of what I know is a better path for me.
  3. Breathing – sometimes, just stopping and breathing helped me from allowing the stress of a particular moment from winning out…especially when I found myself at work or some other place where some of my other strategies were not such readily available options.
  4. Partner up – finding someone to act as an accountability partner was super helpful for me because there are times when you get so far in it that you don’t see it…but your partner might and can reel you back in. It should be someone you see often enough (maybe even two people – one at home and one at work) that they can help you stay focused on letting go of the stress and welcome in the relaxation.

Not every day is a walk in the park – it is a practice I am continually working on, but it has gotten easier with time and I am enjoying more rest and relaxation than ever before. I do have a job where I am technically on call all the time, but I have learned that even that doesn’t mean the phone has to be tied to me all the time.  I set up times throughout the week that are “no-tech or lo-tech” times – I give myself permission to periodically disconnect, even if it is for a small pocket of time.   I gave myself time to read, meditate, and rest – I allow for time to do the things I enjoy and that allow me to recharge my battery.  I have slowly learned to let go, relax, and enjoy.  And it has been so worth it!

It can be hard at first because we have been taught to think we don’t have time for that stuff…but we can choose to make the time…we should choose to make the time because it is that important to our health and well-being.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney J. Harris

“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Feeling “Out Of Sorts”

Maybe it was because of the full moon. Maybe it was because of turning the clocks back an hour. Maybe it was because it was a crazy week at work.  Maybe it’s because I am facing a bunch of big decisions in my personal life.  Or maybe it was a combination of all of those things.  Who knows?  Regardless of the reason or reasons, I felt terribly out of sorts this week.  I haven’t been sleeping right.  My meditation practice has been all over the place – I had little to no focus.  All my normal routines were out of sync.  I even ended up with a migraine mid-week (and I don’t usually get those).  I just couldn’t seem to find my groove.  Everything felt off.

This isn’t something that happens often, but when it does it can wreck me for a good week or two…and I don’t like it. As with most people I imagine, I like when things in my life flow nicely, naturally, smoothly…and this week there wasn’t much flow at all.

I have tried, in the past, to just sit around and wait for it to blow over, but I have never been one to sit idly by and wait for something when I had the power to do something about it. Besides, that tactic has never seemed to help it move along very quickly. And so, I chose to rely on some strategies and techniques that I consider to be my “go to’s”…and they slowly, but surely, helped me move back into a place of balance.  Here’s what helped bring me back from the depths of feeling out of sorts – and I highly recommend them to anyone struggling with that sense of being out of balance in your life:

  1. Be patient with yourself – Becoming upset, irritated or angry with yourself (or anyone else for that matter) when things just aren’t feeling quite right in your life won’t solve anything. Having some patience and understanding with yourself can go a long way. Be loving and compassionate toward yourself.  Know that feeling out of sorts happens to everyone from time to time and that only through patience, understanding, and self-compassion will you rebound successfully.  As with many things, this too shall pass.
  2. Meditate – Even though my meditation practice is not at its best when I feel out of sorts, I know it is important to keep trying to meditate. And I know and accept that some days will be better than others. Some meditation is better than no meditation, to be sure.  The act of sitting quietly, being in the moment, and breathing goes a long way towards bringing yourself out of a state of imbalance or “ungroundedness”.  Using specific meditations which focus on or promote becoming more grounded can be especially helpful.
  3. Take time for yourself – I have found that when I feel out of sorts, the best thing I can do is take time for myself. That might mean curling up with a book, or sleeping in, or watching a movie…anything that is not part of the normal routine but feels good and supportive. Taking time for yourself is such a powerful way to help bring yourself back into alignment in the present.  Go ahead and give yourself permission to just do what feels good in the moment…it might just be the thing you need to turn things around.
  4. Take naps – Naps aren’t just for children, you know. In fact, I highly recommend them for adults, especially when we feel out of sorts. Being able to stop, take a break and rest can really help you collect yourself and get back to being grounded and feeling in balance.  And while this could technically be considered just another way of taking time for yourself, I have found naps to be so helpful that I put them in a category all their own.
  5. Walk away – Sometimes I just have to walk away from what I am working on for a while. I have found it is often better if I can come back later when my head is clear and focused. And while this is not always an option, when it is don’t be shy about doing it if it is helpful as you navigate the murky waters of being out of balance and out of sorts.

Truth be told, this past week I used all of these and then some and still struggled to shake that “out of sorts” feeling. Sometimes it is just like that. It happens to all of us.  But the important thing is to work through it- find the things that help you get back to feeling in balance with yourself.  There are so many things that impact us in the world – the weather, moon cycles, other people’s energy, interactions with others, emotional responses to situations, etc.  We may not be able to control those things, but we can control how we choose to respond to them…even when we are feeling out of sorts.  It’s worth repeating…this too shall pass.

Get Off The Treadmill

I don’t know about you, but most days it feels like life is one giant, swiftly moving treadmill. It feels like life just keeps moving at its own hectic pace and if I don’t keep up with that pace I will go flying off. So, as I am sure many of you can relate, I have learned over the years to keep up with that pace.  I have learned how to “successfully” go through my days moving at the rapid speed of life.  And I get a lot done…I am checking things off of my To Do List and accomplishing my goals like a boss, there’s no doubt.  But there is a cost in moving at this pace all day, every day.  There’s no time to relax and enjoy when you are keeping up with that hectic pace of life.  Our health suffers, we are in a constant state of stress and distress, we don’t eat healthy, we don’t get enough sleep, and we can become irritable quite easily.  There is no time to enjoy the beauty of all that surrounds you…in fact you are most likely not going to even have time to notice it, let alone enjoy it.  There’s no time for reflection, proper self-care, or appreciation of life when you are moving that fast all the time.  And yet that is what we do…day in and day out.  Some days it can seem like you’re losing your mind (at least it does to me).  Some days it feels like I will never reach my destination despite moving so fast every day.  (Let’s be honest, some days I am not even sure what the destination is but I keep moving at this crazy pace nonetheless.)  And some days I find myself asking a few very important questions:  Why does it have to be this way?  Am I really accomplishing anything moving at this rapid pace?  Am I happy with how I am living my life?  The answer to these questions is always a resounding NO!

I am sure most of us have felt this way at some point or another in our lives. And it is a difficult place to be because life doesn’t really give you the time and space to sit back and contemplate these questions – we often find these thoughts passing through our minds ever so briefly as we are moving from one thing in our day to the next. But the truth is, we can choose to take a time out from the treadmill known as life.  There’s no hard and fast rule that says we can’t.  We have been taught to believe it’s wrong or bad to do so, but that is not true.  In fact, there is much research out there to support the fact that you will accomplish more by taking some time for yourself…time to reflect, recharge, and relax.  Personally,  I find that when I allow myself (or even sometimes make myself) slow down and soak up the things around me – meditate, observe, appreciate, express gratitude, etc. – that the answers to the questions in my life come more quickly and clearly.  I get a sense of what is the “right” next step for me and my life.  While I have worked hard over the past year or so to incorporate more of this “down time” into my life, I still don’t quite take that time as often as I’d like – usually I settle for small bursts of time (mostly on the weekends or through my morning routine which includes some meditation and journaling).  And I can definitely tell a difference on the days I don’t give myself permission to have that time.

We all could benefit from slowing down, enjoying the people and things around us, saying thank you a little more often…anything that allows us to step away from the fast moving treadmill of life from time to time so that we can recharge, refocus, and reflect. Despite what our society may tell us about how we shouldn’t relax and enjoy life until we have reached some lofty goal (like a promotion at work, having a certain amount of money in the bank, owning a home, etc.) or a certain point in our life (like when the kids go off to college or retirement), life is meant to be enjoyed, truly enjoyed, EVERYDAY…not just “when we get there”. Give yourself permission to get off the treadmill of life and truly enjoy your life today…and tomorrow…and the next day…