Monday, 10 November 2014

Emotions need to be "digested" too

Just as we "digest" food in our bodies, for good health we also need to "digest" our emotions and feelings. Some of us may have the tendency to sweep feelings under the carpet, or to tell ourselves to "get over it." This build-up of undigested stuff could be contributors to a sense of anxiety and/or depression, and can be in the way of a healthy well-being. In his book When the Body Says No, Gabor Mate notes: "The gut, or intestinal tract, is much more than an organ of digestion. It is a sensory apparatus with a nervous system of its own, intimately connected to the brain's emotional centres."

I found this article in the link below very interesting, by author Vaishali who talks about "The Physical Dynamics of Emotion  – how emotions travel through the body, what emotions stress and undermine which organs and how unresolved emotional experiences can literally get trapped inside the body."

Friday, 31 October 2014

Immigration and Adaptation

This week I presented an "Adaptation to Canada" talk at the "Welcome to Canada" series organized through the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society.  When we relocate to a new country or city, many stress factors come into play,  i.e. navigating job search; cultural/language differences; new friendships/relationships. In addition, we are grieving the family/relationships, country or city/hometown we just left behind.  The settlement period can take anywhere from 1 - 5 years or more. This period can be challenging, and depression, anxiety, and grief can set in. Healthy ways of coping include self care and physical exercise, building a routine, initiating contact with new friends, and resourcing/asking for help.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Are you overscheduled?

Our modern society seems to thrive on activity, accomplishments, "being on the go." The costs include the following: running on adrenaline, running on empty, lack of rest and restoration, and being out of balance. Check out this quiz to see if you are suffering from being overscheduled? This link also includes useful information about sleep, stress, diet, self care, and assertiveness.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

"Pausing" to break old habits...

I am familiar with that tendency towards my own auto-pilot, i.e. reacting in a particular way to someone close to me (getting angry, or avoiding). Pema Chodron, in her book Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears asks us to think about which wolf we want to feed -- the wolf whose stomach is full may be the vengeful and angry wolf, and yet we continue to feed it, instead of feeding the hungry wolf who is understanding and kind. She notes how "pausing" is very helpful in the process of breaking old habits, adding that her teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche used to say that we can approach our lives as an experiment: "In the next moment, in the next hour, we could choose to stop, to slow down, to be still for a few seconds. We could experiment with interrupting the usual chain reaction, and not spin off in the usual way. We don’t need to blame someone else, and we don’t need to blame ourselves. When we’re in a tight spot, we can experiment with not strengthening the aggression habit and see what happens."

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

I feel "guilty"!

Many of us, including myself, have played the role of "pleaser" in order to be loved and accepted. We may be familiar with being guilt-prone and with living with the voice of "shoulds."

The following paragraph is excerpted from Wikipedia's description of Guilt (emotion):  {Alice Miller claims that "many people suffer all their lives from this oppressive feeling of guilt, the sense of not having lived up to their parents' expectations... no argument can overcome these guilt feelings, for they have their beginnings in life's earliest period, and from that they derive their intensity. This may be linked to what Les Parrott has called "the disease of false guilt... At the root of false guilt is the idea that what you feel must be true." If you feel guilty, you must be guilty.}

Here's a link that talks about how being guilt-prone is like having an "overactive smoke detector inside your head" and that the signal is often incorrect:

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Which part of the tree are you hanging onto?

If we were holding on to a tree for safety, we wouldn't be at the top of the tree - succumbing to winds, rains, and storms. Similarly, living in our head can be dangerous - like the "monkey mind" where we never feel settled and balanced. Instead, it would be wise to hang on to the trunk of the tree - where we are more embodied, and able to find our centre and rooting.

Many people who suffer from anxiety tend to live in their heads -- thinking too much, overanalyzing, mind reading, fortune telling, worrrying about the past, worrying about the future.

Here are some tips to cultivate a mind-body connection, and more balance in your life:

1) Practice breath awareness daily, and learn how to anchor with your breath to cultivate a sense of the "here and now." Breathe into your belly, and notice everything about the breath as it enters and leaves your body.

2) Take up a subtle exercise practice like Yoga or Tai Chi, to cultivate body awareness and relaxation.

3) When you walk, sit, or stand, visualize a tree being fully rooted to the ground. Put your awareness in your centre (below the navel), and visualize the trunk of the tree at your centre. 

Here's a link with some information about anxiety, including some other tips on how to relax and find some calm in your life:

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Caring behaviours to nurture your relationship as a couple

When a couple's relationship is stressed, often there is a reduction in caring behaviours -- verbal or non-verbal expressions of interest, respect, concern, and affection. Both partners are likely waiting for good feelings to return before acting positively towards each other. An effective way to jump start the relationship is to consciously increase the rate of exchange of caring behaviours. This may seem unnatural at first, but good feelings will grow from the experiences created by these positive actions.

This link from Psychology Today offers some ideas on this topic:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

We grieve because we love...

My favourite book on grief is Grieving Mindfully by Sameet Kumar. He notes that "love and grief are inextricably intertwined." It is good to remind ourselves that because we love, we grief. If our love is deep, our grief is deep. Just as love is a natural part of being human, so is grief. Grief is not something that we need to "move on" from, rather to process and to "be" with whatever comes in the here and now. I have found that when my clients are able to make space to experience their grief, their grief and loss can transform how they live.

Here is a link to Sameet Kumar's tips on how to grieve mindfully:

Friday, 11 July 2014

Creating a "space" is essential for acquiring new insights

Brian Luke Seaward in his book Stand Like Mountain, Move Like Water, said: "To see the entire picture, we must remember that creating a space is essential for acquiring new insights." He includes a quote from Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching:

"Thirty spokes share the centre of one wheel;
Consider that the hole of the centre is essential to wheel's function.

Craft a pot from earthen clay;
Consider that the space inside provides the pot's true function.

Cut a hole in the wall to make both window and door;
Consider that the space within four walls is essential for living.

Understand that the form and structure is most beneficial;
Consider also that the empty space within the form is most useful."

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The light from within

I came upon this quote by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, which, for me, brings about beautiful imagery, as well as the resilience and resourcefulness we can access through the healing process.

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Monday, 16 June 2014

To forgive...

Desmond Tutu in "The Book of Forgiving" tells us that: "The invitation to forgive is not an invitation to forget. Nor is it an invitation to claim that an injury is less hurtful than it really is... The invitation to forgive is an invitation to find healing and peace." He adds that in his native language, Xhosa, one asks forgiveness by saying Ndicel' uxolo - "I ask for peace."

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Listening to Our Inner Teacher

I was inspired by the forum I participated in today, where we shared about the "inner teacher" within us. So often, we turn towards externals to give us approval, advice, answers. However, when we pause and can hold a space for stillness, we are embodied in our presence and can access our inner teacher. We just need to listen.

Monday, 9 June 2014

On the Inner Critic...

I like this article on "Silencing the Inner Critic" by Christina Feldman.  She notes: "In the Sufi tradition, it is suggested that our thoughts should pass through three gates. At the first gate, we ask of our thought, 'Is it true?' If so, we let the thought pass through to the second gate, where we ask, 'Is it necessary or useful?' If this also is so, we let the thought continue on its way to the third gate, where we ask, 'Is this thought rooted in love and kindness?' Judgmental thoughts, which are neither true, helpful, nor kind, falter at the gates."

Friday, 6 June 2014

Reflection of the Day

"The 70% rule" - My Tai Chi teachers have taught me that it is easy to lose my balance when my arms are stretched too far in the move. This principle can be applied to day-to-day living. When we give too much of ourselves to work or to people in our relationships, we can easily lose our centre.