Reaching for Wellness, guest post by Leah Childress

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Ever since I was a little girl, I have always looked up to my aunt. I remember striving to be like her, seeing how strong she was despite what she had gone through in her life (even though as a child I couldn’t understand the true meaning of her story and the implications it carried with it.) Whenever my mom told me I would get to see my aunt I was always thrilled, more excited than I was to see any other relative, and when my mom joked that I was stubborn and strong headed and shared far more in common with her sister than I did with her, questioning if I wasn’t really Deborah’s daughter. 🙂 I always beamed with pride.

Maybe it is because of my admiration of my aunt as one of the strongest female role models in my life, that I developed an interest in her work, or maybe it was because movement exercise and yoga have always been passions of mine. Either way I know that from a young age I loved coming to my Aunt’s studio. And as I got older I loved helping out whether it was answering phones or coming down for a school internship. So being able to come to my Aunt’s studio this summer as a Physical Therapy student, and working as an intern has been an absolutely empowering and incredible experience. Everyone here has made me feel like part of the family and showed me so much kindness. I want nothing more than to truly do my part and help the studio however I can.

So when I came up with the Reaching for Wellness summer challenge and was able to start making things happen I was thrilled and I figured I should share what wellness means to me. When I try to define wellness in terms of my own life, it is tied to the balance of three things: remaining active in body and mind, listening to myself, and gratitude.

I think the first part of wellness has always been the easiest for me. Remaining active in my mind and body is huge to me. If I am not working towards something, whether it is to be physically stronger or to complete a goal I feel lost. It often can throw off my entire week if I feel like I have nothing to do. I think remaining active in my physical body as well as in pursuing the dreams and goals my mind creates is a huge part of wellness. I think it would be impossible to strive for wellness without defining your goals and reaching forward to try and achieve them. To leave a mind and body completely idle and not push to try and better yourself and achieve all you can seem like a waste, it even seems to me to go against what our very purpose is.

The next part of wellness for me is listening to myself. This can be slightly harder for me to do. While listening to myself in finding what my goals are is easy, listening to what my body asks for is sometimes harder. While pushing yourself to be better is a great thing, without finding balance in listening to when you need to rest it would be quite destructive. It is important that I find balance in allowing my body time to heal and relax and recognize that this is just as needed.

The last aspect of wellness is the one that I struggle with the most and that is gratitude. I think Gratitude is a major part of keeping balance in our lives. I think it is very important to show gratitude towards yourself. To be thankful for your bodies ability to move and the goals you have accomplished because of it. To be thankful for your mind’s ability to drive you forward, and to be thankful to yourself for listening to your own needs.

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Rose. Thorn. Seed. by Austin Dixon, L.Ac.

I love the start of the new year. I actually love new year’s resolutions (otherwise known as “intentions” in the world of mindfulness). The new year feels like an opportunity for a fresh start and I love fresh starts. I love mornings, birthdays, season changes, and new years because they are filled with the possibility for positive change. I love to see what unfolds with the passage of time. Of course, positive change cannot occur without a little planning (have I mentioned I am a Virgo and I love planning? Creating a to-do list and organizing my calendar is a magical experience as far as I am concerned).

So how do we do that (you know, in a fun and not tedious way that everyone would like, not just a Virgo)? With a little exercise known in my house as….Rose. Thorn. Seed.

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Let me explain.

Rose = favorite part of the day (week; month; season; year).

Thorn = least favorite part of the day (week; month; season; year).

Seed = a thought or idea you want to plant for tomorrow (next week; next month; next season; next year).

It can be done daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally. It can also be great on Birthdays and of course, New Years. All of the Above!

You can do Rose. Thorn. Seed by yourself with a pen and paper, mentally over a glass of wine or cup of tea, or verbally with a partner, friend, or your whole family. We do this exercise over dinner every night in my family. We also do it for birthdays with friends and on new year’s eve (which is also my husband’s birthday) reflecting on the whole year and looking into the next.

My husband and I started this when we lived in Brooklyn, before kids. We were both in school and working two jobs and never saw each other. We led completely different lives. I was doing acupuncture, teaching yoga, working as a nanny and dancing, while he was working with computers, making Facebook video games and working on an Off Broadway show. I had as little insight into his world as he did mine. By checking in each day with our Rose. Thorn. Seed it sparked dialogue about things we would otherwise fail to mention about our day. We had been together since college and I started learning new things about this man.

Rose. Thorn. Seed. is also a great exercise to do when you are looking to make a change in your life but feeling unsure about what or how you want to change. A lot of the time we know we aren’t happy or satisfied but don’t know why. By writing down your Rose. Thorn. Seed. daily for a few weeks it is likely you will begin to see a pattern in your likes and dislikes. This is a great tool to help you pinpoint what you want to change. It is a way to get to know yourself better and create changes that will help you live a more inspiring, happy life.

Stay tuned for more on Rose. Thorn. Seed.

Join me on this journey for an acupuncture/yoga workshop at InsideOut Body Therapies that will help put these ideas into play.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

Breathe and Wellness Follows by RJ Lisander

Conceptual close up of a little girl blowing a bird feather away.

When Deborah asked me to share my thoughts on wellness and more specifically what wellness means to me in a blog, I didn’t hesitate to say “I’m in”. After all, I have years of experience in guiding and advising on wellness and 1,000s of hours of reading, coursework and certifications to qualify my voice. But, when I actually sat down to write I realized I am trained to assist others as they define for themselves what wellness means and that my thoughts on wellness were so wrapped up in what others have defined that my voice was a little soft.

Huh.

So, where does that leave me? A fake? A fraud? Not exactly. It lead me stop, to breath in this feeling of uh-oh and to take a really good look at my day-to-day life to see how I define wellness in the midst of all my responsibilities, relationships and the unexpected turns and shifts along the way. What I found over the past couple of weeks of observation is that there is no one way or right way for me to define wellness. Wellness rolls out for me as an awareness of a practice, true presence and an appreciation of the pause.

Like so many reading this, I realize the self-care industry is telling us to take time from schedules to add meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, art/ dance/music/color therapy, spa and weekend retreats in nature. And, yes! One hundred percent, YES! We should be doing ALL these things as often as we can. But, expecting to be able to do all (or any combination of them) all the time is setting us up for failure. Do these things as often as you can, but also do the little things that fit into the pauses of the day to appreciate the moment, to be present with yourself and your needs.

For me, wellness means:

Daily detox: This is two, well, really three-part.  First, it is a media detox. Take a few moments a day to turn off the electronics and to make yourself unavailable to others. Walk, drive, sit in silence, even if just for a couple of minutes a couple of times a day. The second is a detox from saying yes. Sometimes we have to realize we are running low and we need to say no to something. even one little thing can be the difference between us feeling overwhelmed and like things are manageable. So, say no when the first though, instinct you have is “Oh no! I can’t possibly!” The third is a food detox. If you know me, you know I am not a fan of juicing, fasting, fad and restrictive diets. I am a fan of healthy, natural eating and for me that starts with a daily cup of warm water and lemon. This daily detox does so much for the organs, digestive system and energy that I can’t say enough about how it makes me feel cared for and healthy.

Wellness is taking a moment to nourish.

Simple pleasures: Y’all know I love my coffee. A large part of that is the way the coffee steam feels on my cheeks as I pause to take a deep inhale of the scent before I take a sip. This is one of the things in each day that brings me joy so I indulge in that moment. I also find great joy in that first deep breath of fresh air as I walk out the door to start my day. I enjoy staring out windows to notice the sunshine, rain or snow.

Wellness is taking a moment to observe and find a connection to your environment.

Stimulation: Finding the pieces of your day that are missing in the rush can be difficult. In my two weeks of observation of my natural habits I noticed stimulating my mind with quotes, conversations with friends and music all brought me something. Sometimes joy and laughter, sometimes confusion or other things, but always a connection to something greater than myself.

Wellness is taking a moment to find connection to that which you are inspired by, drawn to and learn from.

Sleep:  When I don’t sleep well everything is off balance. I am a total and complete wreck and, as my family will attest, a terror to be around. I know this and over the years I have found ways to address this and I do not, under any circumstances, let go of this practice of nightly sleeping and waking rituals. The time it takes for my body to restore from my daily activities, release the energies of those with whom I have the honor to work within a healing environment, and prepare for the next day is critical to my ability to do all I need and want to do.

Wellness is knowing what you need and making sure it is your nonnegotiable in any and all situations.

Journaling: The hardest part of wellness for me has always been the connection to my own creativity. I was raised to do well in school, test well, and to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. Creativity was encouraged in the form of musical instruments (which I couldn’t seem to play no matter how hard I tried), singing (which, much like musical instruments I couldn’t master), sports (which I excelled at, but, let’s face it, there isn’t much creativity in following a play book or routine). It was in college that I took a true like of writing and endeavored to do more with it and soon found myself obtaining a minor in creative writing. The connection to my own creativity and the practices I found to connect to that voice were the truest and most valuable experiences of my collegiate career. With the process of journaling, even a sentence or two on the notes application on my cell phone, each day, I stay connected to my creativity. Creating is whatever it means to you. But, create. Have a vision, make a plan to see it manifest and then share it. If you love it with all your heart and find the beauty in it there is no fear of judgment. Others will see the beauty inherent to the creation.

Wellness is taking a moment to hear your own voice, intuition and believing in it.

Breathing: The breath. The breath is always the indicator as to what our emotional and physical state is. We notice the rapid breath of anxiety, working out, panic that we missed the meeting or are late to pick up the kids. We notice the breath when it is long and full as we walk through the woods, sit on the beach or snuggle in to a good book. We can each define and recognize the breath of sorrow and laughter. But, it is in the pause at the end of each inhale and exhale that we have the ability to shift our wellness. We can choose to recognize and adapt the breath for what we need to truly find space, calm and a little bit of peace. Taking a moment to notice our breath brings us closer to our true self, our true calling and our state within the moment. Inherently noticing and knowing that sometimes we are more of one thing than the other and then finding the pause, no matter what the means to you, to find the opposite, to me is the epotiome of self-care.

Wellness is the balance of what must be done and what we want to do.

So, breathe. Just breathe. And, wellness will follow.

The Holidays…Guest post by Austin Dixon, L.Ac

Hey Folks,

The holiday season is here and in full swing. While all of us might not celebrate the holidays this time of the year we can’t help but be affected by them. This is when schedules get filled with social events (both wanted and unwanted), lots of money is spent, food and drink flow, and expectations are high. No matter how much you love or hate the holidays it is filled with extreme highs and lows. So how do we balance out those extremes? I have a couple thoughts….

Stop making the holidays about gifts. There are so many other beautiful ways to spend your energy. Get creative and do things that feel meaningful to you. Examples…

  • volunteer (there are tons of places looking for help…soup kitchen, public schools, tutoring, local non-profits, arts organizations)
  • have an experience instead of a gift (get together and do something!)
  • write holiday cards to folks that don’t get a lot of attention during the holidays (folks in nursing homes, overseas, jail, the hospital, etc…)
  • deliver treats (food, cards, etc)  to folks who have to work on holidays (fire stations, hospitals, police stations, grocery stores….)

Take care of yourself (and I don’t mean by spending money!).

  • go to bed early
  • eat cooked foods and avoid raw, cold foods
  • take salt baths
  • drink extra water
  • avoid sugar to the best of your ability
  • spend time outside even though it is cold
  • exercise (even 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes)
  • say no when you don’t want to do something and don’t feel guilty about it
  • spend time looking inward and reflecting on the year
  • stretch daily (set a timer to remind yourself to take stretch breaks)
  • if you have the means, schedule acupuncture, massage, or a fun class for yourself

Stop feeling guilty about what you eat. Even though I think sugar is kin to the devil, I truly believe the hateful things we say to ourselves are more damaging. It is really hard to avoid eating foods we view as “bad” over the holidays. Instead of beating ourselves up about it let’s focus on moderation (or not… go to town on that pie!) and use gratitude instead of shame. “I am going to eat this cookie that was made for me out of love.” “I am going to eat this cake in celebration of ________.” Our minds are powerful, let’s not let a cookie destroy our well being.

Do your best to stay in the moment. When the To Do List is long and the days are short it can feel overwhelming and stress gets elevated. Try to stay in the moment by making a gratitude list. You can do this with pen and paper as a daily ritual or simply stop in the moment of frustration and mentally list 5 things you are grateful for. I find that a gratitude list can also be helpful when preparing  yourself for visits with challenging family members or co-workers. Since contact is inevitable over the holidays prepare for the interaction by making a list of their positive qualities and/or ways that your life is possible and/or improved because of this person. Even if this list is short (sometimes very, very short) it can be a useful way to put yourself in a good place before entering a stressful social situation.

I hope you found this post helpful in some way and can have a few more relaxing and gratitude filled moments this holiday season. As an acupuncturist I found it important to write something that might help folks through the holiday stress, but I recognize the place of privilege I am writing from and the people of privilege I am writing to when I suggest people go to bed on time and take epsom salt baths. Not everyone can do that. However, I still believe these things are important to implement if you can. I understand I am not touching on true stresses that come from not having enough money, lack of physical or emotional support, devastating illness, or loss.

Your friendly acupuncturist,

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Holiday Health + Happiness Challenge by Mischa Decker

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It is so easy to fall into unhealthy habits during this time of year- and I am not just talking about eating too many baked goods and not enough kale.  I am talking about…stress + feeling overwhelmed + putting too much pressure on ourselves to make the perfect holiday + a complete abandonment of our exercise routines.  Time goes quickly, schedules are crazy and there is just SO MUCH on our plates (literally AND figuratively!).

While prepping for a week away from my normal routine I began to think of a few small ways to stay centered and healthy this holiday season.  Here is the challenge I set for myself.  I plan to do these FOUR things MOST days of the week.

Will you join me?

  1. Drink plenty of water. I don’t know about you, but I tend to drink more “adult beverages” this time of year than usual.  Between holiday parties and family gatherings, my wine consumption miiiiight go up.  I also tend to drink less water when I am out of my normal routine, so I am making a point to keep my H2O intake UP this year!  **Bonus: add Young Living Lemon Vitality essential oil to your water for a little extra detoxifying and added flavor!
  2. Do the Pilates abdominal series. I know I will be doing less Pilates while traveling, but it is SO easy to take 5 minutes to do the Stomach Series.  If you aren’t familiar with this series of FIVE exercises, check out the video at the end of this post.  Your abs will thank you!
  3. Take a 20 minute walk.  If we make it a priority, we can usually find 20 minutes a day to go for a walk.  Even just a short walk can help clear the mind and invigorate the body!  It is also a great kick-start for the metabolism.
  4. Two minutes of gratitude. This is actually the one that is most important to me.  I have felt incredibly overwhelmed and actually a little down recently and I have noticed a shift in my thinking.  I am usually the cheerleader…”we can do this!” “things are going to be fine!” “this too shall pass!” but recently I have become much more negative.  And I don’t like it.  I know one thing that has helped me in the past is acknowledging all of the MANY things I have for which I am grateful.  And what better time than NOW to be THANKFUL for even the small things in our lives.  Here are a few ways to do your two minutes (or more!) of gratitude:
    • Use all or part of your daily walk to think about the positive things in your life.
    • Take a drop or two of your favorite essential oil in your hands, rub them together, put them to your nose and inhale.  Breathe in the scent and say aloud or to yourself the things you are grateful for at that time. **I use Young Living’s Frankincense and a blend called Abundance most often.
    • Keep a gratitude journal.  You can use bullet points or even just jot down thoughts.  It doesn’t have to be long or perfect writing!

Comment here or on our FB or IG posts and let us know if you are up for the challenge!

Happy and Healthy Holidays!

Pilates, ALS, and the RDC Marathon…Guest Post by Andrea Lytle Peet

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Andrea Peet (pre-ALS) with her husband

When I was diagnosed with ALS in May 2014 at the age of 33, my husband and I
were confronted by the same depressing facts that everyone with ALS learns:

  • The average life expectancy is 2-5 years
  • Before death, the person will become paralyzed, unable to talk, eat, or
    swallow, and eventually lose the ability to breathe
  • There is no treatment and no cure. The only approved drug extends life
    expectancy 2-3 MONTHS (*note: A second drug was approved in 2017, but it has issues that I won’t bother going into…)

So what do you do with that? I was young, an athlete (I’d done a half Ironman 8
months earlier), and we had just bought a house in order to start a family.
I was already walking with a cane and my speech was slurred, but I thought I was still strong enough to pull off a super sprint triathlon, Ramblin’ Rose Chapel Hill. Since I could no longer balance on two wheels, we bought a recumbent trike. I asked my friends to support me by donating to ALS research and they raised $10,000! My best friend, Julie, and I came in last and ended up with a story in Endurance
magazine.

That race transformed my perspective on the disease. I realized I could inspire
people to take on challenging races as a way to raise money for ALS – but more importantly, as a way to appreciate what their bodies can do. “Team Drea” started with 30 people, but has now grown to 150+ and raised $220,000 for ALS research. As for me, I kept riding my trike…and did a half marathon…then a marathon. Then I thought, “I’m tired of waiting around for this disease to kill me,” and signed up for 12 races in 2016 (half marathons, marathons, and triathlons), each dedicated to someone with ALS who has inspired me.

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Triking

I completed that challenge, crediting my success to exercise on the trike, swimming, and the dumb luck to have a slowly progressing form of ALS.

But it wasn’t until I started working with Mischa Decker at IOBT in January 2017 that I learned I could actually get STRONGER.

What started out as 4 weeks of “I’ll give this a try,” has turned into 11 months of weekly Pilates-based PT appointments with Mischa where we work on my weak areas: core, glutes, outer thighs – and stretching places that are tight: inner thighs, calves, and feet. Top it off with bi-weekly acupuncture appointments with Austin and ooooh weeeee honey, my body feels awesome these days!! 🙂

Mischa is amazing. She is laser focused throughout our session on my positioning, which muscles should be activated, sensitive areas, and those that need attention. I know I’m in trouble when she says, “I have a crazy idea…” because that means she knows I’ve built up the strength to push just a little bit further, do just a little bit more. Which, as we all know, is where the Pilates magic happens.

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On the CoreAlign during one of her Pilates sessions at InsideOut

The results have been incredible. I walk better (still with a walker, but who cares? I’M. STILL. WALKING). While I still fall occasionally, it’s not nearly as frequent now, thanks to my stronger core muscles. And I’m actually getting faster with swimming and triking. Such positive progress is almost unheard of in ALS.

This Sunday, November 12th, I will take on my 12th race of 2017 (27th with ALS) – the inaugural RDC Marathon in Durham. This race benefits my foundation and the proceeds will go to ALS research at Duke. My world-renown* neurologist, Dr.Richard Bedlack, is studying off-label treatments: supplements, bee pollen, fecal transplants, and other crazy things people with ALS try on their own in the absence of any effective treatment in mainstream medicine.

*His wardrobe is also world-renown, see for yourself

He is also studying cases of ALS reversal – that’s right, people whose ALS have gone away. So far he’s found 34…out of 30,000 people living with ALS in the U.S. at any one time.

Not good odds, but Dr. Bedlack’s research gives me hope in the same way that sessions with Mischa do. If I can just hang on a little longer, push just a little bit further, maybe there will be a treatment. Or my body will figure out how to repair itself.

Hey, stranger things have happened – ask the 34 people with ALS reversals…or the woman in the trike doing her 27th race.

Thank you IOBT for supporting ALS research. It means the world to me and everyone else with ALS!

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Team Drea at the Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon 2017

 

 

Achieving Goals with Pilates…Guest post by Riki Shore

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Guest post by Riki Shore

On Sunday October 8th, IOBT client Anne-Claire Broughton will complete her first triathlon, the Ramblin’ Rose, in celebration of turning 50! A lover of challenge and a lifetime learner, Anne-Claire decided to celebrate her half-centennial by doing something active and enabling, and pushing herself to new physical frontiers.

AC bikes

Ever since she can remember, Anne-Claire said her spine looked “unusual”, but she was only recently diagnosed with scoliosis. “I was always flagged for it when we got checked in school,” she remembers, “but the back pain didn’t come until after my daughter was born, and it intensified later when I had abdominal surgery.” Indeed, when she first walked into IOBT she wasn’t standing straight and tall, and she told me immediately that her back hurt “almost all the time”. And like a lot of mothers, firing the low belly muscles was nearly impossible – those muscles just didn’t seem accessible. More than anything, she came to Pilates to strengthen her deep core.

As her instructor, I build sessions that help her achieve her goals while creating space and length in her spine, pushing her to an edge without ever increasing her pain. We start every session with Footwork on the Reformer (see image below), which wakes up her feet and stabilizes her pelvis while using the deep abdominal muscles that Anne-Claire wants to strengthen. Since she’s not primarily looking to build muscle mass, we keep the spring tension low in order to facilitate smooth, continuous movement and highlight the connection between the spring tension and her Pilates scoop (what is sometimes referred to as “holding the spring with your belly”).

AC Reformer

If asked her favorite exercise, Anne-Claire would say Leg Circles, which she credits with helping to straighten her spine and reduce lower back pain.  We also do this exercise every session using the leg springs on the Cadillac. When we first started, I asked Anne-Claire to “stand” into a block that was pushed against the short box from the Reformer, which I had placed at the end of the Cadillac. I wanted to her to feel a ground beneath her extended leg as a stabilizing force while she circled the other leg exploring both movement and restraint. After several months together, she no longer needs the stabilizing block and can hop onto the Cadillac and go right into the exercise.

We always finish the session with some time draped over the Spine Corrector (see image below), which allows her to explore flexion, extension, side bending and rotation in a safe and supportive way. While there have been ups and downs in her triathlon training as she learns what her spine can tolerate, I can honestly say that Anne-Claire is stronger, leaner, taller and more supple than when we first met.

AC Spine Corrector

Like any busy not-quite-50-year-old, she sometimes experiences stress, fatigue, muscle tightness and pain, but she remains undaunted and committed to what she calls her Body Project. “I love doing things that at first I’m afraid of or I think I can’t do. Then when I do them…that is the best feeling!” I have no doubt she’s going to be feeling that way when she crosses the finish line in Chapel Hill in a few short weeks – and I’m proud to have played a small part in her journey. Thank you, Anne-Claire, for brightening IOBT with your presence!

AC Congrats

Schedule a private session with Riki or any of our instructors:        

919-361-0104         info@insideoutbodytherapies.com

Finding Calm in the Moment…Guest post by RJ Lisander

RJ blog

 

Just checking in on you … how is your practice of meditation going so far?  
 

If you are anything like me, it’s probably not really going well at all.  It is hard to sit in the distraction of the mind and find peace.  Not to mention sitting and feeling the dull ache in the back and the slowly growing tingling in the left toe that eventually overtakes the whole foot in a sea of ever moving pin pricks growing in intensity.  

No, it’s not hard to meditate.  It can be near impossible.  So, how did you get through it?  

I added a focal point.

The buildup: It had been a particularly long day at work where a meeting ended with me, a natural klutz, making a turn to leave the room too quickly and spilling half-dayold, cold cream and coffee all over a pile of documents ready to be priority shipped to a marketing conference.  To say there was a less than a pleased look on the face of my boss and the immediate knowledge that the intern, who had been excited about and looking forward to a date for weeks, would miss that date to help me reprint and reorganize everything, caused me to feel less like a human and more like the slog at the bottom of slog is an understatement.

It was a bad day.  (Not my worst day, but a bad day nonetheless.)   

Knowing we had no option other than to make it work, the intern and I got the job done.  The intern even had time to make it to her date.  (In the spirit of full disclosure, she was late, but she did make it.)  I, on the other hand, went to a quiet apartment with no one home but two aging cats more interested in their evening meal than comforting me.  No friends were available to vent to so I left messages asking for return calls. Then I made a dinner for one, which I barely ate, as I was generally feeling nothing but self-pity. 

Now, here is where the real story starts:  I made my way to the sink where I started to wash dishes as I contemplated how to start my letter of resignation … you know, beat them to the firing me punch.  And, then, without thinking about it, after 6-weeks of trying to meditate without even the slightest bit of success, the feel of the warm water washing over my hands, the bubbles of dish detergent soothing my air conditioned-dried fingers, the sound of the water, a steady streamleft me feeling focused.  As I focused on the water and how it felt on my skin became aware of my shoulders relaxing.  Then just as I believe I was about to feel my breath the phone rang and instantly the moment was gone. 

didn’t answer the phone.  Instead, I rolled out my yoga mat and laid down on it –  work suit and all.  I knew no matter what happened at work the next day I would know I found a moment of peace and I was confident I would find that peace again. 

 

The takeaway: Now, I’m pretty sure that while none of you has actually had this day, you can relate to days like this.  And, it is often in these moments where we are not sure what to do, how to move forward, or how those things we don’t have control over will affect and even change our lives, that we seek outside advice.  In my case, that evening, I wanted a friend to help me sort through how to “fix” the idea that I knew everyone had of me being incompetent.  

But, in that moment of mindful meditation I experienced and realized the issue was much deeper; I move too quickly and I needed to slow down.   

The focal point: The next time I decided to meditate I pulled up a picture of a river on my laptop. This picture was from a favorite hiking spot and I just looked at the picture.  I recalled the smells, the sounds, everything I could about that spot.  And, though it would take several more meditation sessions before I found my breath, I left that session with a clearer head and a general sense of calm (and, the personal realization that I have a tendency to over-react to less-than-perfect-deliveries at work).   

Here are a few tips on how to start meditating with a focal point:  

  • Go to that place you have decided is your meditation spot.  
  • Take a moment and a few breaths and think about a place or an object that brings you joy.  Then find the picture of the place or the object. 
  • Take this picture or object and go back to your meditation spot.  
  • Then, once comfortable, take a cleansing inhale and exhale.  
  • Finally, look at your picture or object and notice every detail the texture, the shadings of color, the lightness, the density, the movement, the scent, and the feelings that those observations bring.  
  • Sit here for as long as you are able to focus on the picture or object and the observations.   
  • If your mind wonders bring your attention back to the picture or object until you have completely experienced this moment.  
  • When you are ready to exit your meditation do so with a deep and complete inhale followed by a complete exhale.  
  • Return your picture or object to its place or carry it with you as a reminder to take a moment to sit and settle. 

Be kind to yourself and keep trying!  Finding even a few moments each day for your meditation practice can help you find calm in the moment of mental chaos and live more mindfully.

 

Give yourself one minute a day and it will change your life … slowly

RJ_Meditation

Guest post by….

RJ Lisander, Lotus Seed Meditations, LLC

Meditation is a practice that starts with small steps.  The first and most important step is to start. That means saying to yourself that you will dedicate a few moments each day to you.  

Once you’ve made this decision all you have to do is find a place tget comfortable and practice.  There is no right or wrong space.  There is no need to make it complicated. Just find a space where you naturally feel safe and secure.  For some this is looking out a window feeling the afternoon sun warm the skin.  For some, this space can be sitting by water or in the woods.  For others this space is a comfortable chair, listening to a favorite song, or sitting quietly at the kitchen table with the smell of a favorite meal or treat warming in the oven.  

 

Once you find your space, get comfortable.  Experiment with sitting, lying downand the use of props until you find the position that works best for you.

The second step is to just sit.  Sit for any amount of time, starting with just a minute or two and adding on steadily from there.  (Before you know it you will be sitting in stillness at your goal time.)

The third step, practice, which develops with each session.   By practicing here I am not referring to sitting in stillness with the absence of noises, the chatter of the mind, or the distraction of priorities that draw you away from your practice.  Rather, it means to sit with these things.  Sit with all of these things.  Let yourself become aware of and experience the noises surrounding you.  Let your mind speak until it has said all it needs and quiets.  Remind yourself that you will have plenty of time later in your day to attend to all of your priorities.  But, for the dedicated amount of time try to just sit.  With patience, the practice unfolds and the noises move to the background and the mind naturally quiets quicker and quicker.

Before you know it, you are finding your breath; awareness.  And, that is where the wonderful journey inward and the benefits of meditation start to take hold. 

 

Have questions on how to develop your practice?  Drop me a line at rjlisander@gmail.com or come to a class at InsideOut Body Therapies.  

What is Your “Why”?

One of my favorite New Years Day traditions that my husband and I share is taking down our goal board, reassessing the past year, and looking at the blank slate ahead of us.  And yes, we do have an actual goal board!  It is simple- a small cork board that we pin index cards on and keep in our bedroom.  We don’t really look at it everyday- like most things we see all of the time, it fades into the background, but it does catch my eye at least once a week.

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As we took down the cards with the things we had accomplished, assessed whether we wanted to keep up the ones we didn’t accomplish, and added brand new goals to the board, the word “WHY” started to come up a lot.

Why do we care whether we cook 80% of our meals at home, pay off that credit card, or do the Basic 10 every day?  Some of the answers were obvious, but we decided to go deeper.

Why do we want to be healthy? Why do we want financial freedom?  What will that give us in the long run?

As we came up with our answers, it became more obvious as to WHY we needed to strive toward these fresh new goals on our silly cork board.

So WHY Pilates?

A few months ago I stumbled into a conversation with two clients at the front desk- women in their 40s or 50s. They were explaining to me why they do Pilates: they use Pilates as their extra health insurance policy.  Now that is a great WHY!  If we move now, exercise our bodies and minds, we will hopefully be able to live longer and have better quality of life without having to rely as much on our more costly insurance policies!

One of my clients just turned 70 this week.  In her last lesson before the holiday and my last day with her before going on maternity leave, she wanted to do inversions.  Yes- the advanced exercise where you flip upside down on the bars of the Cadillac.  It wasn’t the first time she had done them, but we both felt like it was appropriate to celebrate this milestone birthday by flipping upside down as if on the monkey bars!

Why do I do Pilates?  Yes, to feel good about how my clothes fit and how I feel in my body, but more importantly…

  • To stay fit and active so I can play with my children for years to come
  • To breathe better and more freely
  • To manage anxiety with the control of my breath and mind
  • To keep my heart active and blood flowing!
  • To live my everyday life injury and pain free
  • To be more mindful and to have a sense of control over my body
  • To live a long and happy life with my physical and mental health in tact

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Oh, and I want to do Inversions on MY 70th birthday!  

Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.
~Joseph Pilates
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