Try these 5 ways to Breakthrough Challenge

How to find ways toward that bigger expanse!

How to find ways toward that bigger expanse!

Life - the highs, the lows, the challenges.  Let's talk Challenge and our response to challenge. There are many - Maybe a difficult relationship, not feeling vibrant or healthy in our body, overwhelmed by daily demands, or conversely just plain bored and dulled with the daily grind.  Any sound familiar??
 
Most often we will respond in our habitual way, because that is easiest, and when we are under stress - we go for easy.  And I am guessing the popular ways (because I have done them all myself) to respond are; ignore and deny, anger, dipping into self pity, resignation, distractions, or blindly powering through. All of these in addition to not working very well, build up in our bodies and create havoc - headaches, fatigue, unhappiness or worse.
 
Let's look a little more closely at overwhelm and resistance. Overwhelm is a popular predicament - many of us just feel so bogged down and lost in overwhelm. Did you know that overwhelm is a version of being in victim mode? That feeling of powerlessness, giving up, not taking responsibility for life's situation, why oh why is this happening to me?
 
And then there is resistance - my personal favorite. Resistance is an energy zapper, an avoidance scheme, heavy and exhausting. It has a fear base to it and makes everything seem so much harder than it needs to be.  Now that is a challenge!  The poet David Whyte wisely says ~ "The price of our vitality is the sum of all of our fears."
 
What if we were to turn toward this challenge and get really curious, honestly curious? What is going on underneath the layers?  What do we feel in our body?  If you were to take a wild guess, what do you think is feeding this challenge? And then continue diving deep into it from there...so much to uncover !
 
This may sound not so interesting or difficult but the challenge looms! And that in and of itself is uncomfortable or maybe even painful. So breaking through a habitual response might really be worth it.  Recognizing where we really are with a situation and acknowledging the responsibility we hold in this, is the first step to meeting a challenge. 

5 ways to get Started with this process of breaking through.

Try on a different perspective, looking at the issue from a new angle. Perhaps imaging stepping back, way back, so that you get the big picture, as if you were a movie director, or a stranger peering in, What Patterns Do You See?   

Honor what your body is telling you it wants to do.  Listening in for the Clues of tightness, guardedness, deadness, maybe even a sense of nausea - all tell tale signs that there is another, easier way possible. Then trust your intuition on what that might be

Embrace the looseness and Lightness of Being Creative. This could be wearing mismatched clothes, dancing by yourself with the music blaring, coloring out of the lines, whatever your routine is try to do it, approach it, differently.  Hint:  No one does creative perfectly, in fact imperfect is better.  

Ask for Help. There are times when we all need to talk with a friend, a relative, a professional. Pick your confidante wisely so that it feels safe to be vulnerable and genuine. This offers not only support but possibly new views into what feels like a bleak situation.

Make Time to Be Alone out in nature. There is a lot of beauty and wisdom to absorb in those silently present 400 year old oak trees, million year old boulders. Perhaps lie down on the earth, contemplating the ever changing clouds, our expansive blue California skies. Experiencing the innate truth that everything changes, your situation is not fixed.

 So pick one, trying to keep your mind open to new possibilities without going into your habitual pattern. Recently I was lucky enough to expand my training with Lucid Living, an advanced program that helps me help my clients move past what they find challenging into a place that feels better in every aspect of their life. If you are curious, or want to share something about all of this, reach out. I am here for you and believe that our challenges can connect us in this evolving dance of life.

 

10+ Ways, How do you Remember?

Colors can be strong reminders also...

Colors can be strong reminders also...

So honestly, how is it going?   It is one month into 2017 and if you are like most of us you had some new intentions, maybe even resolutions, for the New Year.  Minimally an energetic wish to have a good year, to be healthy, to feel happy.  May it be so !

You have probably already figured out that wishing it so is usually not enough. You have to direct yourself so that your actions align with your intentions, and it does really help to have these guide posts of intentions.  Because then...the weather got in the way,brrr so cold.  The political firestorms likely pulled you away, brrr so awful.  Or some extra drama in your life provided just enough distraction that ...wow I forgot to do this and I really, really wanted it.

Which brings us to kindness, an attitude of self kindness. I have noticed that so many people are hard on themselves, self critical, and sometimes their worse enemy, a saboteur to the things they hold near and dear in their heart.  It must be a cultural thing because it is so prevalent.  And knowing this, bringing awareness to this tendency, we can purposely try to cultivate the opposite. A warm hearted wish of love and support for all that you do and all that you are.  Basic kindness to balance out the self loathing for all that we are not.

Kindness is a foundation of Buddhism and I have given it a lot of thought. How to be mindfully kind to ourselves and others?  Even when the temptation, the habit is to be other than that.  And do not under estimate the power of habits; the ones we learn, the ones we are born with, the ones we nourish as they sneak up on us again and again.  It helps to remember that we want to change this habit, that we want to take that first risky step into not so well known territory. Yet how to remember?   Buddhists meditate each day, umm - almost each day, to remember what is most important to them, how to be kind out in the rough and tumble world.

Other Ways to Remember - At Last!

Pin up a photo, an image that is a metaphorical reminder

Change your screenshot on your phone

Carry something in your pocket, something around your neck, your wrist

Leave a message on your phone or send yourself a repeating scheduled email

Make a big public statement on Facebook-(tilts more toward shame than kindness)

Have some skin in the game - pay someone to guide you where you want to go - a physical trainer, a coach, an organizer

Schedule regular, 2-3 times a week sessions, block out your calendar - not to be encroached upon time - for action, focus, or creating

Reflect on what might happen if you don't follow through, the ugly possibilities. You can exaggerate here!

Commit to that first risky step and then recommit, and then recommit again

Tell a close friend who will kindly remind you, ask you, So honestly, how's it going?

Whatever you want for yourself this year- more kindness, healthier habits, a more rewarding job- it does take a strong intention and an acknowledgement that it is a process, a training. And it also takes courage to really change. Often you need support and encouragement in one form or another. So pick your method and go forth to that place that is calling you, and may 2017 be the year that brings you what you have really, deeply wanted for yourself!

And...let me know if you have found something that works for you.   You can share below or send me a note - don't be shy.  In 2017 we are going to need to support each other. 

A Pattern of Rest and Digest

Birds do it, bees do it, even you can do it - when we remember to in this busy, stressful world - we also can stop and relax.  I am sure you are very aware of how the fight or flight pattern feels in your body.  But did you know there is also the rest and digest pattern which feeds and supports the nervous and digestive systems?

Your nervous system needs time for this rest and digest pattern.  Too much fight or flight can send that system, governed by the vagus nerve, haywire, with all kinds of unfortunate results and discomfort.  Rashes, mood swings, anxiety, or worse.
 
And the digestion system too needs that relaxed unwired time for balancing and health.  Recently researchers are discovering that the bacteria in our gut not only helps digest our food but also is home to our immune system and has been referred to as our 2nd brain.   An undercurrent of bad digestion not only makes us feel- bloated, sore, irritated, tired- you fill in the blank- but it also effects any healing our body needs to do for various reasons.  So probably not good to ignore the signs of an unhappy gut.
 
Animals know what they need to do to survive.  Watching my dog I learned the art of chilling out, smelling the wild world in the breeze, and being fully present in this amazing moment - all while stretched out in his favorite position of rest.   And yet we can loose this innate sense, forget those joyful moments of self connection because....there is just so much going on.  Always behind schedule, distracted by the push and pull of getting things done, maybe not feeling all that well and pushing, pushing, pushing.
 
So how can we remember?   Recently I have been thinking about ritual - an act, a gesture - that connects us to an emotional response, maybe one of memory.  Athletes have rituals to help them find their groove, put them in their rhythm of connection to body, muscle memory, and mind state.   Religions also use ritual for much of the same thing.
 
We can have health and wellness rituals too.  Maybe you already do?  Like that morning brushing of your teeth and ...what else?  What else can you build into your day as a way toward health and connecting to the natural rhythm of the breath, of the body?
 
I rest every afternoon, get my neck supported just right, put the silky eye pillow on, and that does it!  My body knows this is the time to sink into the gravity of the earth and into a deep state of rejuvenation and rest. My ritual sets me up so that I instantly go there, sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes for 90.  What I need changes daily.
 
I also use ritual in my meditation practice and to ground my daily life.  Habits, schedules, patterns - whatever helps you be where you need to be, when you need to be there.  And sometimes that place is not one of doing but one of relaxing.
 
So how will help you remember?  What will help you get your groove back?  Some ideas;

  • A slow morning stretch routine
  • yoga class - they come in all levels and styles!
  • Journaling - late night or early morning ponderings
  • Reading - what would support you?
  • Meditation - join a sitting group or alone
  • Practicing whatever appeals to you emotionally, personally

And what do you need to eliminate when making space in your already full life for this practice?   What will allow you the time of a ritual to rest and digest?
 
Dedicated to the memory of my dear dog Renzo, my resting companion and reminder, that some of the best times are the ones of doing nothing.  

 

Letting Go - What Are your Options?

The season is changing and spring brings many wonderful topics to mind, but honestly I need to write about what is happening for me in real time and that is healing.  Healing from the insertion of a new ceramic hip - wowza the things they can do these days!

And wrapped into all of this is the word pain and opening to the vulnerability of feeling pain - emotional, physical, material.  I have realized for years that my body tightens as a natural response to pain and intellectually I know this is not all that helpful. It cuts down on circulation, prohibits full range of movement, blocks instead of opens, for starters.

Last week I had a chance to zero in and experience this so clearly for myself. My body was swollen everywhere so I bravely scheduled a lymphatic massage with Dusa, a gentle healer from my past.  With very gentle pressure in all the right places and in all of the right directions I mentally went with her as she released built up pressure and blockages.  I had to focus in on what was most painful and then.... I had to let it go!  I had to turn toward the pain on a cellular level and imagine it draining away.  I was not passive or avoidant, I was an active partner in healing my own body.

The letting go felt like the floodgates crashing open as far as releasing so much fear and allowing so much creative movement.  And it was not just physical. I was aware of letting go of expectations - why didn't they reach out to me, how come they don't seem to understand?  Could I open up my understanding of their capacity, of their individual styles and not expect others to do it my way.  Were these emotional blockages mine? Theirs? Belonging to both of us more likely as receiving or letting in, is deeply connected to letting go.  And irritability, another reaction I watched replay over and over again, as I desperately wanted something different to be my experience. Aware of this response is my first step in being able to choose to instead, let it go.

The great irony is that by holding on so tightly we actually bring what we fear or avoid that much closer. There is no chance that the thing- physical, emotional, material - could possibly move on while being gripped so tightly. The only choice is that it becomes a weighty burden to carry around, possibly for years?  If not a cognizant burden then a visceral confusion, an inner conflict that tangles the senses and there is not a lot of free flow in that!

So... If you were wondering what is that image at the top of the page, or if all of these words around pain, vulnerability, irritability, are just not doing it for you, there is the very physical option of literally letting go of some of your material burdens.  A very tangible, real experience that gives a hint of what more is possible.  Decluttering the stuff you've been clinging to so tightly, not really sure why, is about to get easier with the new app letgo, kind of a cross between Craigslist and Instagram, helps open those floodgates and you too can experience the freedom of letting go - why not give it a try? 

Healing comes in many possibilities.

Finding Resolve - Simple Tips to Up your Chances

Brave woman scaling the face

If you look carefully, there's a young woman scaling the face of that rock and I can only imagine what brought her there, what will get her to the top.  Inner strength, determination, and courage - we all draw upon our resolve especially at the beginning of the year as we set our resolutions, intentions, and goals. I am not going to be rock climbing at Joshua Tree any time soon although I will need resolve to get me where I want to be with my health, with strengthening my body. I am going to need resolve for changing habits, or more important changing the conditions that set up habits.

Resolve -  n.  a firm determination to do something.  Latin roots of, to loosen, which I love when you think in relation to habits or tendencies.  Our habits can bind us, our resolve can free us!
 
But first things first - did you make a resolution? It's kind of like the lottery - you have to pick your numbers and actually buy your ticket for a chance to win. And you can increase your odds with the following suggestions;

  •  Be specific - describe in detail what your goal entails. The time of day, the duration, the specific result you are seeking.
  •  Write this commitment down, in a way that you can carry It with you, mentally and physically.  Imprint it in your schedule so there is no chance you will forget ... or ignore.
  • Plan for success, Think ahead, plan each day. What is going to create space in my day for this?  Is there anything I need to reprioritize? What might get in the way? And then make the necessary adjustments because you want this - this is your winning ticket!
  • Tell someone - select carefully because you want this person to hold you accountable. You are not going to be tempted by distraction with this person on your side, who is creatively tuned to your personal challenges.
  • Reflect on why this is important for you. What do to have to gain by following through?  What do you have to lose? And what is important about each?

Recent neuroscience studies have made some very favorable discoveries.  The patterns in our brains can be changed, they are pliable and can be shaped into new patterns with repeated effort. Just like a well worn hiking path that for years has directed you from point A to B, you can forge a new path in the brain, literally. The neurons that fire together when you make a choice, or set an action, repeated over time will wire together. With practice your tendency to reach for the sweetest, largest desert falls away and you actually prefer that perfect pear or juicy tangerine.

This year I resolved to have a disciplined training program after 6 months of inactivity. And that first week saying this out loud, imprinting my intention in my mind, did help get me to the gym when I felt the pull to be elsewhere. And then life happened; surgery for the dog, injections for the hip, then that nasty chest cold going around, so I found I did need resolve, a resolve of patience and acceptance. That was my training for January.

It's been just over a month into 2016 and not too late to reset your efforts. This could be the year of the big win.  Is there anything you would like to share about resolve, habits, or making changes?   I encourage you to comment below and go public.  Make your most important aspirations real - now is the time, and you deserve it !

Doing Less and Being More

Seed pods of future growth

Seed pods of future growth

Planting the seeds of growth and potential does not have to be complicated. Just like Mies Van Der Rohes' design adage suggests, Less is More may prove to be very helpful this holiday season. During this time there are so many temptations, distractions, and expectations.  Also it is a time to very much honor your values of family, connection, community and what is most important to you. And interestingly enough if you try to do it all, those values will fly out the window, resulting in dissatisfaction all around, plus some stress and regrets on the side. So.....less is really more.   

 Perhaps one less drink, one less shopping excursion, one less political stance at the family gathering would help create the conditions for an authentic conversation or the feeling of gratitude versus one of overwhelm.   Knowing ourselves, our point of balance, is important during times like these. So what helps you connect to yourself?   A walk in the hood, a replenishing nap in preparation for the big party, even 5 minutes of breathing with the intention of relaxing and releasing, or perhaps getting those colored pens out for a session of coloring???  (Coloring, I found out over Thanksgiving, is a wonderful way to connect with your favorite teenager!)  

The question is;  What are you willing to give up in order to get more of those qualities that makes your holiday sing?   I have found that silencing the "I should be doing this, I should be doing that", though potentially disappointing for the other person, is quickly forgotten when substituted with a quality of being fully present - mentally, physically, and emotionally.   And self care and self knowledge is the important pathway to fully inhabiting the magic of being fully present.  Find the support you need for doing less, and being more!  

Which brings us to More.  If less is more what DO you want more of this holiday season?  Taking some time for setting your intentions can be powerful.   Instead of plowing full steam ahead to be all things to all people (you know this is impossible right?) Give some thought to what you value most in your life and then how to honor that.  More playing-with the young people in your life, more  listening - with your elders, more gestures of generosity and kindness- with the stranger, more heart connection- with those closest, are some suggestions from my playbook.

May the Spirit of the Holiday be present for you!

Gratefully,
Shunya


And here is a gift for you (regifting is also possible! ) - a coaching exercise to help you make the most of your reflection on this past year and the New Year approaching.  A place to voice what is important about this time for you.  A couple of questions to help you articulate what you have learned, (we all hold a lot of past experience and wisdom around this) and a couple of questions to help acknowledge and then imagine what it is you would like to create for yourself in moving forward, perhaps a shift, trying something new, or following through on that long held dream???  And this gift includes a powerful conversation with me, your HeartWisdom Coach.  I look forward to being your resource in exploring new possibilities and your support in embracing change.

If Doing Less and Being More sounds intriguing to you - Let's Talk !

Rest and Relaxation

Big Ridge reflections

Big Ridge reflections

We all dream about a little R&R; a beautiful beach, turquoise waters, languid, slow days or perhaps a cabin in the woods with a good book and a babbling creek.  What a vacation that would be!  Maybe in May, maybe next year....

Our bodies need some R&R as part of the balance, part of the ritual of everyday life.  Just like they need exercise, healthy food, a good nights sleep.  Ideally this time would be a part of our daily or weekly life and yet so often more pressing things take over - that never ending to do list, the family responsibility, even the laundry - become more important than balance in the body.  And when you have internal conditions like an illness or a demanding external situation creating stress, then this place of rest and relaxation becomes even more important. 

Our bodies are amazing.  They are resilient, forgiving, strong - until they're not.  They are only human and can absorb only so much stress and strain before they protest in not so pleasant ways.   And if you are listening carefully perhaps they are only asking for a restorative nap.  Or perhaps a long hike alone to an amazing vista.  Or luxurious time spent having an excellent massage.  All of these become valuable gifts to ourselves especially when we add the magical ingredient of being wholly and truly present during these times.  Acknowledging "Hey I see you over there tight left glute muscle, I care about you sore wrist, I feel your fatigue, your weariness AND I am going to take care of you with some loving attention.

For me, my body needs daily resting naps. Whether 20 minutes or 2 hours, this is a time that I go deeply inside and energetically connect with the parts of me that are calling for my attention.  I lie on my back, with pillows placed just so, to support my neck and knees.  I align my joints so no area is curled or twisted, including my fingers and toes, and then I plunge inward.  Ahhh attuned to the sensations and wisdom coursing through.  There are times when this quiet time is when I feel most alive!

And there are no distractions like mentally planning the weekend or researching the next purchase.  If you were talking with a close friend in a time of need, Would you be watching TV or reading a book at the same time???  I doubt it; you would be very present and deeply listening.  Your body is that friend who needs you to be actively present.

So what sounds relaxing for your body right now?  Where is the place you feel completely comfortable?  What is comfort in the body(Now that is a good question!)  With all of the benefits of Leaning In, can you at times give yourself permission to lean back?  I encourage you, no I challenge you, to create some time like this for yourself right now, today.  Don't wait for that fantastic vacation you have planned, because I promise if you start this practice now, that vacation you have planned will be even better, even more enjoyable, not only for you but also for the family or friend who may be at your side.

And of course I would love to hear back about what you find for yourself in that place of rest and relaxation! 

Alive....With Issues

Highline grafitti dancer, NYC

Issues, we all have them.  Some need a lot of attention; others might do better with less.  Some change our lives; others seem to change our lives.  Some hide in the shadows waiting to come out when the time is right and others are front and center for all to see.  It might be a family of issues or the errant issue that you cannot imagine how it found you.

We can ignore them, fixate on them, deny them, confuse them... It's a complicated issue...our issues.  And Whatever the issue there is almost certainly a story that goes along with it and these stories, as we have talked about before, (see August 2014), can either help us or hinder us.  The interwoven stories on the surface somehow make it seem better, safer, though over time we may find this is not really the case.  We may find the stories make life more difficult. 

So how do we know we have an issue that needs some loving attention?  Our bodies tell us.  It may start off as a quiet intuitive feeling, a small ache in the knee, or heaviness in the heart area.  And if these small requests for attention go ignored the message gets stronger and stronger.  A painful back that keeps you in bed, an extreme sense of overwhelm and fatigue, a body that is obviously not happy.  Is there something you have been ignoring or blocking out?

If we listen to our body,  it might be asking for a change of habit, a change in relationships, a change in sleep patterns, or a different way to relate to our bodies.  Often a fear of change, a desire to keep things just the way they are, even if they are not working all that well for us, keeps us in these unhealthy states.   This sense that the unknown future  is scarier than the present situation.  It is good to remind ourselves that a change just might bring us exactly what we have been dreaming for.  A  change that initially sounds limiting, may actually turn out to bring many good qualities with it. 

And that's where confidence, or trust, comes in and awareness around the first word of this blog title - Alive - becomes important.  Feeling alive, aware of the body being alive and the many intricacies of what that entails gives you something not only to appreciate but also to trust.  An inner wisdom that supports making change so that there is alignment with how you live and what you need.  Fully knowing that you are alive, your foot is alive, your elbow is alive, also engenders caring and kindness for yourself in whatever state you happen to find your self.  And so your issue gets the attention it has been asking for.  It may not be fixed but it will be heard and don't we all just want to be heard?  To be acknowledged?

So what issue have you been avoiding?  Where do you find appreciation in your imperfect day?  What change is your body asking you to embark on? And how does it feel to fully acknowledge Yes I am alive and....I have issues.

I would love to hear from you - me and my very alive, broken foot ! just click the comment button below.