Depression, PTSD, anxiety? Can yoga help?

Last time I wrote about how the simple shift and commitment to seeing if yoga could help my back eventually impacted every aspect of my life. While yoga can be a spiritual practice in and of itself, I do not promote yoga from that aspect; yoga moves the physical body in ways that allow the mind and spirit to flourish and that is something that is available to every person.

Yoga is known to make the body more flexible; would it surprise you to know it makes the mind flexible also? Yoga strengthens the body; no shocker then that the spirit also strengthens. Yoga heals the body in untold ways; are you willing to practice yoga and see if it can possibly heal your mind and spirit as effectively?

I have been reading a lot of FB posts about friends who have dealt with depression, PTSD and other traumatic mental health concerns and this is my gift and response. It is essential to seek professional help to walk this journey with you and it is also essential to support yourself with kind and nurturing practices to allow healing to happen. Yoga is one of those supportive elements and today I offer a single pose that has transformed my relationship to the depression and traumas of my life.

Warrior 2

Warrior 2 is a challenging pose that all bodies can try. Over time you will feel stronger, more balanced, better able to relax through the challenge. It is best if you can incorporate this pose into a short practice that might include cat/cow and a gentle twist.

  • Stand with the feet 2-3’apart, left foot facing the wall to the side, right foot pigeon-toed, left heel facing into right arch. Lift up out of the hips, and lift arms to a T, palms facing to the floor.
  • Allow the gaze to follow out past the left fingers and as you exhale, bend the left knee so the knee is directly above the ankle. Eventually the thigh may be parallel to the floor.
  • Breathe as fully as possible. Inhale to stand back up.
  • Repeat other side.

I strongly recommend you do 5-10 minutes of yoga daily, find the poses that feel nourishing and if you are dealing with depression, PTSD, anxiety or other mental health concerns please add Warrior 2; you might discover the incredible strength within as the body learns its own power.

Please email me directly if you are not comfortable asking questions in the comment section of this blog.

Namaste.

Baby steps lead to massive changes

Is there something you want to change in your life? Perhaps you want to be healthier, maybe you want to quit smoking, do you want to strengthen your relationships or improve your bank balance?

Any one of these goals seems to require untold shifts and changes in your life and can be overwhelming, which is why we so often express the desire but never actually follow through. Take a step back, sit down with a cup of tea and an index card and be ready to have your world changed!!

Ready??? First of all, write down the one thing you most want to change (yes, you are only allowed one thing!!). Next, pick the smallest, simplest step you can take in the direction of your goal. Using the above examples:

  • To be healthier: Walk once around the block, every day, no excuses (not even the rain)
  • To quit smoking: Next time you pick up the pack, set it down, put on the timer (start with 10 minutes and work your way up to 30). Then have your cigarette.
  • Strengthen relationships: Text a message to one person once a week expressing your love for them.
  • Improve your Bank Balance: Write down what you spend one day a week.

Put the index card with your goal and baby step on the fridge or your bathroom mirror. Commit to this practice and do not get ahead of yourself and add things you “have to do”. Two things happen when you make a subtle shift like this in your life:

  1. You make and keep a promise to yourself which triggers all sorts of positive feedback; your self-esteem improves; you appreciate yourself more; and you begin to feel like you deserve this.
  2. Over time you will want to make other changes to move you towards your goal. (Remember these are not commitments, simply a choice you might make on a particular day.)

Yoga has changed every aspect of my life and for the longest time I could not understand how touching my toes could possibly soothe my depression. I made a tiny shift in my life with the sole goal of easing constant back pain; I did a few poses most days and my pain went away, so I kept doing it.

I recently read Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” and he does a wonderful job of explaining our habits and how they impact our lives. Check it out from your local library.

No matter how enormous your ultimate goal might feel, find the smallest habit you can and begin there; I can almost guarantee that this simple act will change your world in untold ways.

Prepare for the abundance to come rushing in.

Namaste.

Gandhi

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi

 

Friendship; making sense of loss

Friend

What is a relationship? How do you define the relationships in your life? For me, a relationship is a soul interaction between myself and another (though as I wrote last month, the most significant relationship we can ever have is with ourselves). I received words of wisdom from a woman many years ago: “People come into your life; some for a reason, some for a season and some for a lifetime.” This has helped me accept the exit of many who have left their mark on my soul, always supporting my journey.

Today I learned a friend passed away and I am sad; sad because we were close for such a short time a while ago, sad because I liked her a lot and life took me in other directions, grateful because I knew her and grateful I will always have her signature on my soul.

It is difficult to lose a relationship to death and it is also difficult to lose a relationship to life. Every day, the memory of a friend, or ten, is triggered by a song, a word, an event; people I love dearly, people who most definitely left their mark in my life. Most of these people are alive and well and if we sat for tea tomorrow the years would melt away and our relationship would pick up where it left off. I am grateful to have the memories, they are such a beautiful interlude in my day.

I am busy, you are busy, everyone is busy. There is no way any of us could keep in touch with every person who has deeply touched our heart; whenever one of these faces pops into my head I smile and say my usual prayer: “May they know peace and the causes of peace, happiness and the causes of happiness.”

As we have been traveling the country I have come to understand that I can, in fact, stay better connected to those souls important in my life today. I send a postcard or a quick Facebook message, I text a photo or email a link to something I think they will enjoy. I wish I had the bandwidth to hold close all the people I still love but I don’t. Instead, I will be fully present to my present and when I have the opportunity to catch up with my past I will relish a cup of tea, a good natter, a hug and a kiss!

For today, I am grateful to have crossed paths with so many kind and loving souls, today I wish my friend safe travels.

Namaste.

 

 

Sleep, water and air; the things we need to live!!

It’s the simple things in life that keep us healthy, and I mean that literally. Sleep, water and fresh air are great places to start when you decide to make health changes.

Sleep is essential to our well-being; it allows the body time to refresh and renew but it is also a time for the body to heal and repair itself, which is why is it is good idea to have a small amount of healthy protein before going to bed (Protein is needed for repair.) Tips to sleep better – don’t watch TV in bed; use 1-2 drops of Lavender essential oil under your pillow; take 4-5 deep belly breaths lying on your back. Sleep tight!

I’m not sure I can say much about water that hasn’t already been said (and read!!) by everyone. Drink lots of water, enough to make your urine clear when you use the toilet. Drink water instead of sodas. Always carry a water bottle with you and make an effort to empty it often.

Spending time outside is refreshing, relaxing, invigorating and soothing; all great benefits we all want more of. In theory we should all be able to get plenty of fresh air every day but the reality is that we often go days without decent exposure; we can go from house to car to office or errands without walking more than 100 yards outside. We have to intentionally get out into fresh air daily to get the benefits. Perhaps there is a park or walking trail nearby – go for a short stroll (this isn’t about exercise, though that is a nice side-benefit!), or maybe take the dog to the dog park, even sitting outside on a bench works.

Now it is time for me to go to bed and get some sleep!!

Namaste.

Are you “homeless”?

It’s hard to know where home is when you have been living out of a Subaru for 7+ months. I have come to the realization that home is wherever I am because home is a concept not a physical location and I have all the essential ingredients of home regardless of where we park the car!! Home is:

  • space to breathe, rest, rejuvenate
  • feeling safe and comfortable
  • where you can kick off your shoes, even your clothes and dance, sing or play
  • hanging out with people you love, chatting, reading, or doing nothing
  • eating food that feeds your body and soul
  • no need to be anything other than yourself

If you’re not sure where you feel at home, or perhaps you have never felt “at home” there are a few things you might consider.

Create space: Clear the clutter from your life, whether physical or mental. Empty that closet; do you really need 25 towels? Cull your to-do list; the world will not come to an end if you don’t serve gourmet dinners, repaint the kitchen or say yes to everything.

Find your tribe: Keep only the people in your life who allow you to be yourself and you know this by how you feel around them. If you find yourself watching what you say or wear (whether to be seen as cool, smart or lovable) you might look for more supportive and nurturing companions for your journey even, or especially, when they are family.

Know yourself: Whether through meditation, silence, walking on the beach or in the woods, when you become intimately acquainted with who, why and how you are, you will feel at home anywhere in the world.

Be kind to yourself and everyone you meet: If you spoke to others the way you speak to yourself you might get punched; you are already pure, perfect and complete and don’t tell yourself otherwise. When you are kind to those you meet along the way the kindness boomerangs and fills you with light and love, and that is a very homey feeling.

They say home is where the heart is; find your heart and you will be home.

Namaste.

The perfect role model for abundance

If you think you have challenges in life, you have to read this…

I was really struggling to choose a focus for today’s post. The theme is spirituality and I had so many options I was unable to pick just one. (I suffer from this same malady when I am faced with a large menu at a restaurant!!)

So I was killing time on Facebook, avoiding myself and the empty page, when I stumbled on this 15 minute video clip of Maysoon Zayid giving her TED talk. I hope you will take the time to watch; it will speak to your spirit and to your heart, and I hope you find it inspiring. (See link below)

The reason I feel compelled to share this on my blog, rather than simply on Facebook is because Maysoon embodies abundance; her joy shines through even as she talks about her challenges; she accepts her life and also wants more; she is willing to step outside her comfort zone into her life; she does not avoid the big issues, the uncomfortable conversations but when she talks about disability, hatred, discrimination she does so without self-pity.

For all these reasons Maysoon Zayid serves as the perfect role model for living an abundant life. It is time for each of us to accept who we are, live today, and step into our “brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous” life.

http://www.upworthy.com/a-gorgeous-woman-shakes-her-body-on-stage-and-the-crowd-goes-wild?c=ufb1

Namaste.

Travel + tent = Abundant living

I was a little nervous when I came up with the idea to camp as much as possible around the US for as long as possible. You see, I love my bed; I really, really, really love my bed. When we were giving away or selling everything we owned the biggest challenge was the bed (at least it went to a deserving cause – our oldest son and his new wife!) But I digress…did I mention I love my bed???

We have been on the road for 7+ months and we have slept in the tents 46  nights. Not as many as I had anticipated (but who wants to camp in below-zero temps?) See travel stats for more info

The family used to joke that my idea of camping was at the Motel 6!! Surprisingly, I have loved the tent; I have loved setting up the tent, the “beds”, pillows and more. I have even enjoyed the de-camping process. (It is my job to get everything inside the tent sorted out and back in the car topper.) The cooking has been fun and inventive, and surprisingly delicious. In a tent, there is plenty of time to take in the beautiful surroundings, the peace, the space, the silence. Plenty of time to count blessings, read and do nothing. Plenty of time.

Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to enjoy city trips (I have Chicago and Dublin coming up) and I will also continue to enjoy the timeshares we own (I see Hawaii and Italy in the cards!) but I plan to camp much more often as we wind down our around-the-US trip. A weekend here and a night there will be a great way to step out of the every day and into the real world because camping guarantees a connection with the real world (trees, lakes, oceans, mountains, plains, you name it!!)

If you already camp I encourage you to spread the word; go forth and evangelize!! If you have never tried it (or think you don’t like it), I recommend you give it a shot. Here are some suggestions to make the experience the best it can be:

  • Like anything, camping is better when you have the right equipment; instead of going cheap, consider renting top of the line equipment from a local outdoors supplier, or borrow from a seasoned camper-friend.
  • Plan ahead and do your research – Where will you camp? What can you expect (insects, terrain, weather etc…)?
  • Bring some “luxuries” like my Tempurpedic pillow, fresh coffee and the grinder, a real wine glass!
  • Leave your troubles behind; don’t bring the computer, access to TV or movies. Instead bring cards, games and books.
  • Ask camping friends for advice and suggestions.

Traveling is a great way to bring abundance into your life and camping is a great way to travel. Safe (and fun) travels!

Namaste.