Oh, how I love spring! Here on the west coast, the daffodils and crocus have been out for several weeks, and the cherry blossoms and rhododendrons are starting to show their beauty. Many of us in spring get “spring fever” or a burst of energy; particularly if we’ve endured a long, cold winter. This time of year, I have to remind myself that I’m not 25 anymore and avoid taking on too many new obligations and activities even though I feel so alive! Perhaps you relate. Do you often take on alot of activities and obligations, and say “yes” because you’ve been asked and you think you should? I’ve been there and know what it feels like to lose your energy and not feel like doing much of anything. So how can you prevent yourself from taking on too much and then crashing?
Here are a few tips:
Spend time in nature several times a week or more. Go for a walk, a hike, visit a garden, use all of your senses to take in the natural beauty. Bathe in forests. The Japanese have done longitudinal research to show that when we walk in forests, it reduces our heartrate, reduces our blood pressure and increases the number of natural killer cells our body produces (strengthens our immune system).
Be aware of your energy and the people who “give” and “take” energy from you. Get clear on the people in your life who energize you and those who tend to sap your energy. Spend most of your time with those who energize you.
Set healthy boundaries. Write a list of the things you enjoy doing. When people ask you to chair a committee or serve on the Executive of a group, be clear that this is what you enjoy doing rather than what you feel you SHOULD do. Living life following the “shoulds” is energy-draining and doesn’t bring out our “best sides”. For more strategies visit http://creativelivingcommunity.com/are-you-giving-too-much-2/
Practice saying “no”. You may have been raised in a family where children and women were expected to do what they were asked and experienced the repercussions of NOT following the rules. … Start small. It’s like a muscle; the more you say “no”, the easier it becomes.
Listen to and Trust in Your Body’s Wisdom. Our bodies always know the truth. There are a number of decision-making tools that enable us to get “out of our heads” and our logical left-brains, and tap into our bodies. Muscle testing is one way to determine whether we should say “yes” or “no”. One way to do this is to stand up straight, feel like you have a plumb line going from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Then ask yourself the following: Is my name …? And state your real name. Your body should sway forward meaning “yes”. Then say to yourself Is my name John Doe? If that is not your name, your body should sway backwards. Now you have a baseline. Now ask yourself other questions such as Should I accept the position as President of this Club/organization?. When your body moves backwards it indicates “no”, forwards “yes”, and if it doesn’t move ask again. It may be that this decision won’t have strong impact on you either way. For additional examples see http://creativelivingcommunity.com/how-do-you-make-decisions/ .
I’d love to hear from you and invite you to try any or all of the strategies above and notice how they work for you.
Please share below strategies that you’ve found helpful in preventing you from taking on too much and then crashing.
Here’s to your health, happiness, fulfillment and inner peace!
I just finished reading my friend and colleague Barb Edie’s inspiring new book Creating the “Impossible”. It reinforced my belief that my dreams are NOT too big, and I CAN accomplish them by following my heart, asking for what I want, and being open to opportunities and people who come my way.
What dream do you have? How do you want to make the world a better place? What skills and talents do you have to draw on to move toward your vision? Who can you partner with to support you to move toward your vision?
In August 2010, I felt like I wanted to make a bigger difference in the world. I had launched my coaching business 18 months before, and had a network of coaches in Canada and the US specialized in coaching people through a variety of life transitions; career, relationship, health … . Our clients were getting some good results, but we weren’t positively impacting enough people; things weren’t moving fast enough. My soul was telling me that there was something more, something bigger. I had been studying Body-Centred Coaching with Marlena Field and was engaged in the last teleseminar of the program. She asked for a volunteer to demo a body-centred decision-making process. I volunteered. Marlena gave the following instructions:
Find a line on the floor. Now think about what you want. Notice if any negative emotions (e.g. fear) or limiting beliefs (e.g. I can’t possibly do that!) come up for you. Imagine each of those emotions or beliefs as stones in a pack on your back. Then imagine each one of them falling to the ground. Notice how light and free you feel. Now envision what you want. Cross that line on the floor however you wish – leaping, running, walking, and while doing so say aloud what you want. … Pay attention to people and opportunities that present themselves in the days and weeks following.
I leapt across the line, a carpet in my office, and yelled “I want to PLAY BIG!” Within two weeks I received an email inviting me to “throw my hat into the ring” for one of 3 positions in the health sector in a new high level program the Canadian government had launched in Afghanistan. On receiving the email, I knew in my heart that this was my opportunity to PLAY BIG. I said “yes” to being interested, and within one month I had “won” the contract to be a Technical Advisor in Policy and Planning to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in Afghanistan. Two weeks later I was on the ground in Kabul. I ended up living and working in Afghanistan for 13 months and helped the MoPH develop their first strategic plan, and built the capacity of internal teams to do strategic and operational planning using participatory processes. It was an amazing experience! … You’ll never guess what the “line on my office floor” was. It was an Afghan prayer mat I had been gifted while working in Pakistan a number of years before!
I invite you to try the process above and ask for what YOU want. Then notice, in the weeks following, what people and opportunities present themselves to support YOU to “create the (seemingly) impossible”.
In her new book, Barbara Edie shares stories from her own remarkable life, as well as those of a number of visionary change-makers from around the globe who are making the world a better place. Compelling, inspiring, with powerful lessons, and questions for contemplation woven throughout, Barbara takes us on an incredible journey showing us how that when we listen to and trust our inner wisdom, dream big, and follow our hearts, anything is possible! If you want to be inspired get your copy (print or ebook) of “Creating the Impossible: What It Takes to Bring Your Vision to Life” today.
I welcome your comments below. Feel free to share this with others you think may find it of interest.
I invite you to ask yourself the question, What would I do if I had no fear? Notice what comes up. You may get a message “Leave my job.” “Leave my marriage.” “Start that business I’ve been wanting to for awhile.” If you get a message, then notice how your body feels when you receive it. Do you feel tension, or excitement about new possibilities? You may then ask yourself, What’s the worst thing that could happen if … I leave my job, leave my marriage, start that new business? Notice again what messages and feelings come up for you.
The Importance of Listening to Your Body’s Wisdom
What I know to be true from my own journey and work with clients around the world is that our body always knows the truth. When we stay in a job or relationship that no longer serves us, it takes a lot of energy. We are living out of alignment with what Buddha calls our “true self” wants; what we intuitively know is the best choice for us. I’ve made a number of “pros” and “cons” lists over the years based on my rational left-brain. However, the decisions I’ve made solely from using my logical left-brain, have not always been the right ones for me. The ones I’ve made by going inside and listening to my body have always been the “right” ones.
What happens when We Don’t Listen
One of the keys to Creative Livingin my book Learning to Dance with Life is “Listen to and Trust in Your Body’s Wisdom”. There is increasing evidence of the negative impacts on our body of NOT listening to the messages it sends us. Dr. Gabor Mate, in his book When the Body Says No, provides case studies and research evidence linking stress with cancer and auto-immune disorders. Ruth Buczynski, licensed psychologist and President of the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM), wrote that the high stress of our complicated lives “can wreak havoc on our brain’s ability to control emotions, maintain focus and perform tasks”- http://www.nicabm.com/nicabmblog/the-brain-under-stress-using-mindfulness-to-regain-focus/). When we stay in jobs or relationships that are stressing us out, over time this leads to negative impacts on our health and also negatively affects our performance at work.
Tools to Enhance Body Awareness
In my work with clients I teach a number of tools and techniques to assist them to listen to and trust in their body’s wisdom. It takes some time and practice, however the benefits are amazing! Imagine being able to ask yourself about a decision you are challenged to make, and being able to go inside your body and “know” the truth/the best choice for you? Imagine being able to trust that the decision you are making will bring positive results to you, instead of deliberating for days and a number of sleepless nights over what to do?
A good place to start is with Body Scanning, a mindfulness technique from Eastern psychology. This practice cultivates the ability within you to live “in the present moment”. When you do a body scan, you take the time to notice and feel your body’s sensations. A good time to do this is in the morning on awakening. Rather than leaping out of bed and “hitting the ground running” make a conscious effort to quiet your mind and scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Notice any tension or discomfort; breathe into these areas and consciously release and let of the tension. – See more at: http://creativelivingcommunity.com/how-you-can-find-peace-amidst-the-chaos-of-daily-life-work/
Another tool that I’ve found really helpful to “get out of my head” and “into my body” is Mindfulness Walking Meditation. When you do a mindfulness walking meditation outdoors, you feel the ground beneath your feet, the breeze against your face, and the cool air flowing through your nostrils down into your lungs. You smell the salt sea air or the aroma of lilacs, and you observe the scenery around you. Rather than spending your time constantly thinking about and processing all the things you have to do, you stay present and experience all of nature’s beautiful sights, smells, sounds and sensations.
My challenge to you
I encourage you to try one or both of the tools above. Begin with one and start incorporating it into your life on a daily basis. Notice how you feel in the moment and over time. I’d love to hear your experiences below with trying these tools. I invite you to share your own tools and techniques for listening to and trusting in your body’s wisdom and the results you’ve achieved from doing so. Feel free to share this post with others.
“Celebrate” means to “publicly acknowledge (a significant or happy day or event) with a social gathering or enjoyable activity”; and “to honour or praise”. (www.oxforddictionaries.com). When we examine cultures around the world, we find that all cultures, religions and spiritual traditions have special holidays in which people gather to celebrate. Whether they be Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Eid, they all provide opportunities for us to connect with people we care about, share certain rituals, and to reflect and take time out from the busy lives many of us lead. It’s interesting that thousands of years ago, people in positions of power realized the importance of taking time out, connecting, and publicly acknowledging a remarkable person or event.
Many cultures also celebrate the birth of a child and subsequent anniversaries of their birth. Isn’t it curious in the busy lives we lead, that many of us don’t take time to celebrate ourselves, and our accomplishments?
When we get together with people we care about, we often laugh and engage in playful activity. When we laugh, we release endorphins and encourage energy to move throughout our body. In the words of Candace Pert, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist who has spent much of her scientific life studying the mind-body link:
“Play and laughter are vital to feeling good. Recreation isn’t merely a frivolous addition to life or a hard-earned reward for work…I believe that in a society driven by a strong work ethic, with so many individuals burdened with workaholism, people aren’t getting enough endorphinergic surges through the bodymind on a regular basis. For you to not be laughing and playing during some part of every day is unnatural and goes against your fundamental biochemistry.” (Everything You Need to Feel Go(o)d), 2006)
I’d like to share a couple of strategies to support you to celebrate yourself. At the end of everyday, I encourage you to reflect on your day and identify at least one thing (big or small) that you’d like to celebrate. Also, instead of going through your ‘to-do’ list and only checking off what you’ve done, or finishing a project and quickly moving on to the next, I recommend that you feel into your body and acknowledge your accomplishments.
In the video below, I share a technique I’ve found helpful to encourage those endorphinergic surges Candace Pert recommends. Try it and let me know what you experience.
I invite you to share below how you celebrate yourself and any “ahas” you’ve noticed.
When you have an important decision to make, how do you usually approach it? If you’re anything like me, I used to do the pros and cons list and make a logical left-brain decision. Some years ago, I began reflecting on my life and realized that the decisions I’ve made from my heart or my gut have always been the right ones for me, resulting in positive life experiences. When the decisions came solely from my head and my logical left-brain (using a pros and cons list), the results were not so good.
During the past 15 years or so I have become consciously aware of how important it is to listen to my body, how to do it and how to trust in the messages it sends me.
Did you know that our gut and our heart have nerve endings that send signals to our brains? So when we say that our gut or heart is telling us something, there is scientific evidence this is so
How can you access, listen to and trust in your body’s wisdom and the messages it sends you? Here’s a process I use and teach my clients.
Think about a decision you would like assistance in making. Get comfortable, close your eyes, take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then continue to breathe normally in and out through your nose. Feel your feet and imagine deep roots coming out of the bottom of them and reaching deep down into Mother Earth. Then imagine branches growing from your shoulders and head that reach up to the sky and tap into the beautiful Source Energy/God/Universal Energy (whatever you choose to call it). Feel that light coming inthrough the top of your head and bathing your entire body. Now that you are grounded and connected with earth and sky/heavens, ask the question that you would like clarity on. It could be, Should I apply for that new position? Should I start my own business? Continue to breathe deeply and notice if any answers come up for you.
Some people experience a sense of knowing, others receive an auditory message, still others see a vision of someone speaking to them, or an object that is a metaphor or a sign of what is in their best interest or for the highest good.
This takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and learn to trust the process and your body’s wisdom. You may find it easier to start with smaller decisions that don’t involve much change in your life: Should I call up my friend today? Often when you follow your heart or gut and call up a friend, they will say to you, “We must have ESP!” or, “I was just thinking of you and about to give you a call.” It’s like a muscle: the more you use your body’s wisdom, the easier it will become and in time you will make decisions that you trust are the right ones for you.
Some people find that initially no answer comes to them. If you find that to be the case, don’t beat yourself up. Rather, ask throughout the day for a sign that provides you with the answer. Let go and get on with your day and notice that at some time when you’re not thinking about it, the answer may come to you and you will know what action to take.
Another suggestion is to ask a question just before you go to sleep and also ask that you receive the answer on awakening. It’s helpful to keep a pen and paper by your bed in case things come to you during the night or on awakening. *
I invite you to experiment with the process above. I’d love to hear your experiences and welcome your comments below. Feel free to share the process with others.
* Part of this post is an excerpt from my book Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women. Stay tuned for the launch date!