Mind Body for Daily Living

A conversation exploring Mind Body and how the tools and resources of it are with us every day. What does it mean and how do we access it to grow our lives? My friend Sam and I sit down to talk about it.

Reframing our Relationship to Stress

This podcast gives an overview of how the nervous system functions in relation to stress as well as looking at the difference between physical threats and perceived stressors. Our bodies are amazing! They are designed to meet stress but we need to understand the importance of having a more flexible nervous system and what getst in our way of this. Super simple exercises are included in the podcast for you to explore.

 

Awareness insight and exercise

I have been speaking to the importance of awareness and why it is essential. Here is a simple exercise I call ‘Body Scan’ to help you build your personal awareness. You can do it in as little as a few minutes or longer when you have the time. This episode offers you the basics so you can do it on your own anywhere.

Awareness is Key

This podcast discusses the workings of our unconscious and how awareness empowers us to make changes in our habits and conditioning. There is also a simple exercise to help grow your personal awareness and connect the dots of the practice.

The Invitation

In this second podcast of the series I offer an invitation to explore our core resources. We each have these amazing super powers but we sometimes forget that they are there for us to access. In this podcast, I make the proposal for why each of us is more brilliant than we currently imagine.

The Journey Begins

This is the first podcast in the series and it took the shape of an interview between myself and Sam Fisher. He asks questions about this practice and why I began developing and sharing it. This podcast will explore our being human and offer tools and insights through the Sound Body Wisdom practice. It’s a space of possibility expanded by science, mind-body practices and personal wisdom.

Undeniable self love

“It’s undeniable how brilliant you are, in an unreliable world you shine like a star.”

These are the opening lyrics to a cheesy Pop song I enjoy. Listening to it today, I reflected again on the ease with which we give away such love and adoration to others…..but not typically to ourselves.
Generally speaking, when we sing a song like this we are singing about someone else.

I reflected further upon my own journey with ‘love songs’. Remembering that about 10 years ago I made a shift in my way of relating to songs like this.
At the time, I was going through some challenging events personally and I had such a focus on external love and relationships. (And yes, there had been a ‘break-up’ involved in this personal exploration.) And I realized that what felt like unbearable ‘suffering’ was my persistence in wanting to have someone be the focus of these ‘love songs’.
Since I couldn’t change the fact that there was no ‘somebody’ and I couldn’t change the radio playlist…..I had to shift my perception and focus.

It took some negotiating at first, but eventually I realized I needed to whole heartedly sing this to myself. Every time and without exception I needed to be able to put myself as the ‘somebody’ in the song.
It couldn’t just be the occasional ‘positive affirmation’ or lip service. I needed to have the same verve as if I was singing it to someone other than me.
(Don’t get me wrong, I am an uber romantic and I enjoy having someone to sing these songs to…..but now, I am equally able to sing them to myself.)

As I have shared this perspective with people there sometimes seems to be a hesitance; a worry that this could perhaps be seen as narcissism.
I find this fascinating……
How could unconditionally loving oneself be seen as ‘excessive self-love’?
(I would imagine a narcissistic personality would mean there are problems arising from an out of balance self- centeredness that disrupts other interactions.)

I am simply talking about the pure and unfettered loving of oneself that is our birthright.
No more, no less.
Why would we choose anything else?
And once we have this resource within ourselves…are we not even more capable of offering it without conditions to another person?

For this reason…… I sing loud and with a big heart…..
…….for me, for you and for the romantic joy in it all……

Self Care redux

Self care……
A topic revisited…..

This is something that means very different things to different people and manifests differently just as much.
I have heard friends speak about wanting to put more attention towards this and yet it becomes elusive for them. It’s clear that the desire for ‘self care’ tools is strong so why does it seem to evade us?

As I ask these questions I look within myself for as many perspectives as possible in the complexity of being human. I untether my fixed thinking and allow myself to get a broader view from many angles.

Each of us has our own individualized range of personal (and conditioned) perspectives. They can be simultaneously our blessing and challenge. Our unique conditioning is what allows each of us to discover our own particular insights and teachings in the world.
This discovery comes from personal reflection, questioning and being curious about one self.
What works for one person may or may not work for all. We can certainly be inspired by what others discover but I believe it is ultimately a personal journey of the individual to reflect and ask questions. It is amazing to be motivated by things and people outside of us but to remember that the spark of this inspiration is coming from within us. We could not see, feel or realize any of it if it weren’t first inside of us.

I mention this because I feel that many people detach from their insights of personal growth, giving it away to something/someone outside of them. It seems easier to assign wisdom to anything other than our selves. This balance is critical to me on the path of self-care.

In many ways, personal reflection and awareness can sound so simple in print but can be a bit more complicated to embody and integrate. It asks us to touch upon and inquire in areas that are not necessarily our ‘comfort’ zone. It can immerse you in vulnerability and places of uncertainty.
I believe a key companion to accompany personal reflection/awareness is an abundant dose of authentic compassion or non-judgment. It’s not confusing to me why many of our vulnerable or uncertain parts might not want to reveal themselves if they think they’re going to be beat up, invalidated or criticized.
We need to be able to witness and hold ourselves with deep respect, reverence and love for all that we are…..every part of us…..right now…..not some ideal in the future. Right now, this breath, with all the blessings and challenges that are part of us.

Perhaps now I might re-focus towards the practical.
It’s all fine and good to talk about loving oneself but sometimes all the talk keeps it a bit intangible. I think when it comes to the details of self care we all find those foggy places and are not quite sure what the next step might be. More often than not we can be inspired by something we heard or read….. but without practical tools it remains this lofty goal or a cozy notion for ‘some day in the future when I am an evolved person’.
My sense is that we are that evolved person right now and much of what we need is within us this very moment. Like riding a bike….we have the tools we need but we have to practice and get the feel for it.
As I have said before, I think what ends up serving the individual on their journey of self-care (aka: self love) will be ongoing and uniquely their own creation. Each of us has our own learning curves, our triggers and different needs. Discovering more about all of them can help you create tools for shifting your old patterns….in particular, patterns that limit your capacity for self-care. Only you can do this level of personal questioning and discovery.

I thought I might share a few tools that work for me and perhaps you might get sparked or inspired to improvise with them and create for yourself…….

-I ask questions…….

For self-care I ask myself if a situation, person or pattern nourishes me. Then, I listen with a soft heart of non-judgment.
The listening is equally as important as the asking in this.

I also speak to myself as a ‘tribe (see my other post about ‘inner tribe’), acknowledging that I have different aspects of myself that show up with varied opinions and needs at different times.

I compassionately listen to the diverse voices that sometimes emerge and simply honor and respect them …without judgment. (You might be surprised what you can learn when you listen without pre-conceived ideas of ‘right and wrong’)

The more I learn about the needs of these different parts I slowly gain insight about my personal behaviors and habits.

As we get to know ourselves more……we realize that one size does not always fit all. Through our self-awareness that comes from questioning, trial and error…… we can understand why some tools work for us while others don’t. We can let go of comparisons and make choices based on personal wisdom and our own unique needs.

Bottom line:
I question, listen without judgment and allow myself to gain insight into how I personally function so I can create effective new tools and technique based on this insight.

-I make lists and observe

Instead of trying to figure it all out ……I simply make a list of objective observations.
This might look like:
~Tightening in chest
~Rapid fire thoughts
~Sense of overwhelm
~Need to distract
~Swelling of anger
~Feeling of insecurity

Nine times out of ten there are all sorts of indicators or re-occurring behaviors that accompany periods of lacking self-care. Many of these are entrenched or learned and have yet to be interrupted.

I simply make the list and leave it until later.
Then when I am not immersed in the feelings/sensations I can connect to things on the list with curiosity.
This will then lead me back to asking simple questions and listening to what follows.

This simple act of listing helps me observe objectively. From there insights can emerge.

It is only through the guide of personal awareness that I am able to unwind the habits that deplete me. Lists teach me to be an engaged observer who is my own best ally.

-When steeped in emotions….
Try to notice the emotion and pause….create a little space.
Remind yourself that what you are feeling is just a moment in time and let it keep moving. Try not to let it get stuck or frozen. Every moment is completely fresh and new. Try thinking of each moment as un-fabricated. Next, look at the ‘entanglement’ and say to yourself ‘there is nothing wrong here’….and notice how that feels….observe whatever thoughts or feelings that follow.
Relax your grip on the moment…..relax the storyline and allow yourself to breathe back into open space inside. Open space without storyline can sometimes be threatening to the habitual pattern so it’s not always simple to manifest. There are many attachments to the image of ‘me’ …….looking and being a ‘right’ way and retreating into this familiar version of self can feel more secure than the wide open space. Space is threatening because there is nothing to hold onto or attach to there.

Play with these….and play with your own imagination and perceptions.
(I sometimes think we underestimate the role of imagination in our own self-discovery. It is a powerful ally when we let it be.)
Perhaps something in these tools might assist you on your discovery of learning yourself….wide-open.

……loving oneself without conditions and judgment IS self-care…..

Thanks for visiting!

What is ‘self care’?

The topic of ‘self care’ seems to be coming up in conversations a lot lately and to some degree it can mean different things to different people. It can also be more or less affected by life situation and circumstances. But for so many people I speak with, the ‘basics’ such as sleep, nourishing food, non-‘doing’ time and water, take a back seat to hectic schedules….. and they acknowledge this. They reflect on their attempts at shifting it but the tone of their reflection tends to move towards a sense of ‘failure’ in the end or a temporary ‘victory’.

So, why is it that in our lives the first thing that seems to depart is basic ‘self care’?
And how is it that we have created a culture where this is so common and acceptable and in some arenas (such as jobs or academia) it is expected? Can you imagine if within job culture that ‘self care’ was viewed as a strength and encouraged?

Now, I understand that in certain circumstances like raising children there is a whole different set of needs and we make necessary sacrifices for our children. But I also understand that it takes a ‘village’ to raise a child and many of us have lost that ‘village’ sensibility. Our society has held on high the ‘merits’ of self sufficiency and privacy. We have become more independent and insular which can often bring on more stress due to lack of integrated support network. (When I say ‘integrated’ I am referring to a community of support that doesn’t just manifest in times of crisis but is ongoing.)
I also believe that self care and child raising can go together and that our cultural legacy has not offered us a strong models for this. (Sometimes we almost wear our exhaustion like a badge of honor or way to ‘show’ the world we are working hard and earning our merit)
And whether or not you have children are we not always taking care of all the growing aspects of ourselves even as ‘adults’? Is there not a growing, nurturing, learning and loving quality to each of our days as we navigate our lives and the many layers of who we are?
It also seems less common to see someone who grew up being taught or shown the unique personal importance of self care. So many children these days watch the adults around them rushing about, eating while on the run, driving while on the phone, ‘running late’, on their computers/smart phones all the time, distracted etc etc (to name a few). Where do we think young people learn self care? Where did you or I learn our knowledge of self care (and I am talking beyond brushing our teeth and basic hygiene)?
I am not criticizing these qualities of hecticity……some of these are a part of my life too. But……I think it is about balance…….we don’t need to choose all or nothing….we each need to discover and integrate balance.
If self care is such a reoccurring topic of conversation and point of reflection (or even the mirror for feeling bad about oneself based on comparison) than there must be something significant about it…yes? And if it is something so many people seem to desire and yet it is elusive perhaps there is something to discover.
So where to begin….?
For me it always begins with a question(s).
I suppose each person would need to start with honestly asking themselves what ‘self care’ means for them (because it is different for each of us although we will have common themes) and perhaps even ask why it is important.
And then perhaps gently ask without judgement, ‘what gets in my way of doing this care?’.

I believe so much begins from within……not from the outside in. You need to connect to your own ‘center’……that wise & grounded place in each of us. It is within this center that we can learn about what we need and what gets in our way. The key here is learning to listen and this takes some practice for many of us.

We also need to get out from within the pattern of viewing self care as this elusive quality that we have for a fleeting moment and then we ‘mess up’. This always seems like a set up for feeling bad about oneself. Perhaps know that it is already within you and you are simply allowing space for it to emerge. And any time you notice you weren’t able to allow it……gently question without judgement. Perhaps be curious and loving as a part of your self care. It might take time but it is truly there within you to cultivate.

(I don’t know about you, but I typically feel more willing to be vulnerable in situations that feel safe and nurturing as opposed to ones where it feels harsh and critical. In the latter I am going to protect myself and not open up. If you want to get to know the vulnerable and honest parts of yourself perhaps let go of the criticism and cultivate a compassionate and gentle approach. This is certainly not the model we have learned overall but why not try it?)

So, why not start right now and feel into what is self care for you.
Notice if you feel it is already integrated into your days.
Notice if you have any sense of lacking with it.
Notice what it means to you and the thoughts that tag along in this process.
Simply notice.
You will be your best guide in knowing what is true for you. Just open an environment in yourself for this ‘truth’ to emerge freely. Continue to cultivate unconditioned love for yourself…….believe that you are doing it with every breath you take.
Why not?

Thanks for reading and sharing.
jacq

Our competitive nature (part 1)

competitive
1 having or displaying a strong desire to be more successful than others
2 as good as or better than others of a comparable nature

compete
1 strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same

I was in a yoga class today and the teacher reminded everyone to only go as deep in the pose as worked for our own body and not based on what others were doing…..to be ‘where we are’ with our own practice. This is a simple reminder and in many ways an obvious one…..but one we often bypass. I thought about the posture I was in and how even in small ways I am striving towards a ‘goal’. Pausing, I asked myself where that goal had come from……meaning was it from my own lived experience/ barometer or from an outside concept served up through comparison.

This all starts to get a little curious because the lines of ‘me’ and the lines of everything else are blurry at times. And in many ways that makes sense because we are in a constant relationship of reciprocal influence. As a society we have a continuous flow of shared ideas, styles, standards and beliefs. We are truly affected by everything that we ‘take in’ on conscious and unconscious levels and have been since our inception.
So, even something as benign as a yoga pose and how I relate to it is affected by so many external concepts of ‘good’ and ‘success’. (I know I have written before about the nature of thought, judgement and the relative nature of success…… and considering the prevalence of these things in our world and how they shape us, I will most likely continue to explore them.)

I often contemplate how I would relate to myself and the world if I was on a deserted island (extreme exercise but helps to show contrast). An island where the influences are radically different. If all I had to go on was my own personal experience, acquired knowledge and intuition. Where would ‘judgement’ be? What would ‘success’ look like? Time and time again my honest answer is it would be a much more gentle and much less critical way of living and ‘being’. A way that is much more based on the inner sensation than an outer comparison.
Now, I am a supporter of growth and striving that comes with moving towards a goal. What a beautiful thing we as humans can envision and ‘achieve’. But it seems with that comes the shadow side of our competitive nature with ourselves and others. And along with that comes the inevitable judgements and fueled sense of opposition.
How can we on a daily basis be curious about our own conditioned patterns of comparison, judgement, criticism and concepts of success? Whether it is in a yoga class, cooking a meal for someone, in our ‘art’ work, in our relationships or even how we spend our ‘free’ time….how do we take responsibility for ourselves? I think it asks us to develop our sense of personal awareness and notice the moments these thoughts or beliefs are influencing our actions and how we feel about ourselves and others. And in those moments of awareness we can pause and perhaps choose something that is less based on competition and more on what truly serves us.

It is absolutely possible to unwind the conditioning. Like anything it takes practice. And once you begin to unwind it you start to see how much of a ‘hold’ it has had on you and how much energy it takes from each of us. Why not try something different from the way we have learned and that which seems to create so much feeling of ‘less than’ or lacking…..so much competition that doesn’t serve us.
Check out part 2 for a simple exercise.
Thanks for reading……


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