Sunday, December 27, 2009
It's been an interesting few weeks trying to figure out who I am without my daily job. But it's opening my eyes to what really lights my fire. Children. Education. Business development. Local business. Portland. Connecting with people. Creating new communities of people. Yoga. Health and wellness. Nutrition. Family. Giving. Laughter.
Where will this all lead me? I'm so excited to find out! I have a feeling 2010 is going to be the start of an amazing next chapter of my life and I can't wait to see how it unfolds!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
The officer was standing over the body of homeless man who was on the edge of the freeway. He was just sitting with his body slumped over.... not moving. I’m not sure if he was alive. The image was extremely startling. It shook me more than the accident behind us.
How does life get so bad you are slumped over on the side of the freeway?
I’m feeling both broken hearted and unsettled. Not sure what to do, but I will be doing something, that is for certain.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I've been listening to her speak on a CD called Getting Unstuck, which she also wrote a book with this title. In the portion I listened to tonight, she addressed people's habitual tendency to close down. There is a Buddhist term she used for what pulls the trigger- Shenpa, described as follows:
"Shenpa is the urge, the hook, that triggers our habitual tendency to close down. We get hooked in that moment of tightening when we reach for relief."
She notes we reach for relief in many ways- whether alcohol, self medicating, eating, being critical of others, being critical of ourselves, shopping, or many of the other creative ways we use to escape the uncomfortable moment. We all have our methods :)
Over time, this becomes our habit and common reaction. We program ourselves to react this way in our effort to find relief (or temporary relief). I know for me my reactions are often an undesired state, but I don't know how to change them so they just keep repeating.
Her solution- be in the moment.
"To get unhooked we begin by recognizing that moment of unease and learn to relax in that moment."
So essentially, identify it is happening and then be with it. It seems like a self intervention of sorts. Realize its happening and then relax with what is happening.
This will not change it overnight. We have to do it over and over and over again. But then we reprogram and we start to empower what she calls our "wisdom guide," which is our own mind. I love that!
I'm still trying to get my arms around all this, but the concept of Shenpa, getting unstuck and having our own inner "wisdom guide" is very interesting to me. As I learn more I'll share.
In the meantime, if you want to read more, see...
And there is also the book and CD- both titled Getting Unstuck.
Excerpt from above piece by Chodron:
The Tibetan word for this is shenpa. It is usually translated "attachment," but a more descriptive translation might be "hooked." When shenpa hooks us, we're likely to get stuck. We could call shenpa "that sticky feeling." It's an everyday experience. Even a spot on your new sweater can take you there. At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down.
Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That's the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us.
Remember the fairy tale in which toads hop out of the princess's mouth whenever she starts to say mean words? That's how being hooked can feel. Yet we don't stop—we can't stop—because we're in the habit of associating whatever we're doing with relief from our own discomfort. This is the shenpa syndrome. The word "attachment" doesn't quite translate what's happening. It's a quality of experience that's not easy to describe but which everyone knows well. Shenpa is usually involuntary and it gets right to the root of why we suffer.
Someone looks at us in a certain way, or we hear a certain song, we smell a certain smell, we walk into a certain room and boom. The feeling has nothing to do with the present, and nevertheless, there it is.
Shenpa thrives on the underlying insecurity of living in a world that is always changing. We experience this insecurity as a background of slight unease or restlessness. We all want some kind of relief from that unease, so we turn to what we enjoy—food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work or shopping. In moderation what we enjoy might be very delightful. We can appreciate its taste and its presence in our life. But when we empower it with the idea that it will bring us comfort, that it will remove our unease, we get hooked.
Friday, October 2, 2009
More on that later.
I just read an interesting bit on the effects of the exposure of love and anger on the immune system. A Harvard scientist named David Mclelland conducted a research study which showed watching anger-provoking movies suppressed the immune system (measured by chemicals in the saliva) for five to six hours in the subjects. On the flip side, watching the compassionate work of Mother Teresa caused elevation of the immune system levels.
Clear evidence that we must manage our exposure to stress for the sake of our health. Not surprising, but the physiological evidence always has a greater impact on my motivation to take things more seriously.
So I am off to find movies about Mother Teresa, butterflies and unicorns.
Have a lovely day!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I was inspired to write tonight by some delicious gluten-free cookies I discovered. The brand is "The Craving's Place" which I found at New Seasons (you mix & bake). Chocolate Chunk... yum!
So why gluten-free? A couple years ago my acupuncturist mentioned gluten can create a wet towel effect in the intestines. This past year I read a book called "The Mood Cure" which discusses how to regulate emotions and energy with food and amino acids. She outlines several bad mood foods, including gluten (gluten= flour, wheat, oats, barley and rye).
What's the issue? "Gluten (think glue) can irritate, inflame and rupture the lining of the digestive tract, to the point that the nutrients of food don't get absorbed well (or sometimes at all)." This in turn disrupts digestion and can cause malnutrition. She maps back to all kinds of problems- from digestive to headaches, depression and colon cancer. Eek!
I tested giving them up and very quickly felt like a new person. My stomach and intestines felt lighter. My digestion was better. My skin improved GREATLY. And I had more energy.
When I eat now (yes, I sneak) I get a terrible stomach ache and my skin sometimes is impacted.
It's been very interesting. I'm definitely glad to be gluten-free. But do sneak a piece of bread or slice of pizza... it's worth the pain from time to time. :)
The good news is I am discovering more and more options, so sneaking may not be necessary soon.
If you are interested in the book, see:
And if you want gluten-free recommendations, let me know. I also love recommendations so please pass along!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I was getting pretty freaked out at first. It's all come on so sudden. Clearly I've reached a turning point and things are just going to start changing no matter how much I exercise, eat well and try and reduce stress.
The more I've thought about it, I'm realizing there is such a small window for our "youth"/"prime", but the majority of our lives (if we live an average lifespan) is riddled with greys, wrinkles and sags.
So considering we spend most of our time in this state, I think we need to start embracing it as beautiful and the new "prime". Why live with such anxiety over the progression nature has in store for us? Why place such a high premium on a portion of our lives that is so short in comparison to the larger part of our existence?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I am eternally grateful toward having such amazing, supportive people in my life. My friends and family have played a significant role in helping encourage me along in my path to health and happiness. I am truly blessed.
Here’s to health!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"If you can learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, no one can steal your peace."
Something I continue to work on... how to be in the moment, even if that moment is uncomfortable. This quote brought a new beauty to being present and not running from whatever is happening.
This one will definitely go in the back pocket.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Here's just a few things I've gained from practicing:
- It has given me space to reflect every day and come back to the simplest essence of who I am- outside of my career, my relationships, etc.... just me at the core.
- It has taught me how to breathe, which in my opinion is the most powerful tool we own.
- It has made me appreciate my body for what it is.
- It has made me a gentler person (at least I hope) and more grateful for the life I have been given.
- It has taught me to not only be grateful for my life, but to show this gratitude by being the best person I can each day and act kindly toward other beings and the earth.
- It has taught me that we are all connected and share in the struggles of life (some way more than others, so perspective is important)
- It has carried me through some of the hardest periods of my life and reminded me to "just breathe".
So, to answer the question as posed by my papa, here goes...
Q: What is the difference between yoga and stretching?
A: Although yoga involves stretching your muscles, it is quite different than the stretches you might do to prepare for running, working out at the gym, etc. Yoga in its entirety also goes far beyond physical practice.
Some key ways yoga is different (note, this is extracted from various articles... my way of removing my bias :)) :
- Yoga places emphasis on alignment, meaning that how you are touching your toes is more important than whether you can actually touch them or not.
- Most yoga poses are not stretching an isolated area, but rather involve the whole body in both stretching and strengthening.
- Yoga involves awareness of the breath. Many styles, such as vinyasa, hatha and ashtanga, use specific breathing techniques and also use breath to guide the movements.
- Asana, or the physical practice of postures, in only one aspect of a yoga practice, albeit the most well-known one these days. Even if you only engage in yoga through asana practice (an excellent place to start), be aware of the eight limbs of yoga. Each limb relates to an aspect of achieving a healthy and fulfilling life, and each builds upon the one before it. Only one of the limbs involves the performance of yoga postures.
Here is a description of the eight limbs (From http://www.about.com/).
- Yama: Five ethical guidelines regarding moral behavior towards others:
Nonviolence, Truthfulness, Nonstealing, Nonlust, Noncovetesness
- Niyama: Five ethical guidelines regarding moral behavior towards oneself:
Cleanliness, Contentment, Sustained practice, Self study, Surrender to God
- Asana: Practice of yoga postures.
- Pranayama: Practice of breathing exercises.
- Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses, meaning that the exterior world is not a distraction from the interior world within oneself.
- Dharana: Concentration, meaning the ability to focus on something uninterrupted by external or internal distractions.
- Dhyana: Meditation. Building upon Dharana, the concentration is no longer focused on a single thing but is all encompassing.
- Samadhi: Bliss. Building upon Dhyana, the transcendence of the self through meditation. The merging of the self with the universe. Sometimes translated as enlightenment.
Excerpts from Peter (more tips in the full article... read the last one here though... the most important!)-
- Get enough sleep (but not too much). Since insufficient sleep is associated with weight gain, make sure you’re getting enough sleep that you feel well rested in the morning. If you tend to feel more groggy after a certain time in bed (usually over 9 hours), you may be oversleeping.
- Don’t skip meals. When you skip meals your metabolism slows down to adjust for the decreased supply of calories. Also, you’re more likely to overeat at your next meal.
- The amount you eat per meal is more significant than your total daily calories. If you eat two meals of 1000 calories each per day (that’s 2000 calories total), you most certainly are supplying your body with more than it can handle at each meal, and the excess will be stored as fat. On the other hand, if you divided those same 2000 calories into four 500-calorie meals spaced out evenly over the day, you are more likely to under-supply your caloric need. Then the body will burn fat for extra energy.
-Allow enough time between meals for the stomach to empty and your body to burn the calories you have consumed. This means at least two and a half hours with no food whatsoever (water is okay). If you tend to get hypoglycemic between meals, trying eating more protein and fewer simple carbohydrates.
- Never microwave anything in a plastic container or plastic wrap; reduce your consumption of foods that come in plastic containers (dry goods in plastic are okay) and cans. Plastic residues in our food may interfere with our hormone function.
- Stay relaxed when you eat. Always eat sitting down, turn off the music, turn off the television, and put down your book or newspaper. It’s a good idea to stay relaxed after eating, too.
-Sugars allow the amino acid tryptophan to enter your brain. There it is converted into serotonin, which elevates our mood. Without adequate carbs, there may not be enough tryptophan entering the brain, and consequently not enough serotonin. This is why some people feel depressed when eating a low carbohydrate diet. This can be addressed by eating slightly more complex carbohydrates (vegetables!, moderate amounts of whole, raw fruits, or small amounts of whole, unrefined, cooked grains) and/or taking supplemental tryptophan (1500 mg twice a day or 3000 mg at bedtime, always taken apart from protein-rich foods).
-Don’t stop eating fats. It’s a good idea to avoid margarine and deep fried foods, since they’re unhealthy, but moderate amounts of animal and vegetable fat supply essential nutrients. They give us energy, support nervous system function, and are useful in promoting satiety. That is, they help us feel full. Most people would feel full - perhaps even bloated - after eating a piece of cheesecake (which has plenty of fat), but meanwhile you could probably drink a glass or two of soda or bottled juice and still eat a meal with it. The soda/juice has no fat, so it doesn’t fill you up much, but it has maybe two-thirds the calories per can as a piece of cheesecake!
- Finally, just because you may prefer a slimmer body, don’t withhold love and approval from yourself. This is like depriving a sick person of medicine because you dislike sickness. Think about how you would treat a loved one with a weight problem. Even if you thought they would fare better with different eating habits or more exercise, would you reject them or stop loving them? You are so much more than the shape of the body you reside in. When you stop loving yourself, the impact on your health can only be negative. Practice a combination of discipline and compassion. You can do it.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I've also been focused on bringing my health back into alignment. Some of my routines got broken in the past couple of years- particularly my yoga practice, working out and eating well. I seem to be back on track, but my goodness does it take a lot of discipline and fighting temptation. So many days I just didn't want to go to the studio or gym. So many moments wanting a "treat." I've been reminding myself every moment how good it feels to stay on course, and how crappy it feels to fall off. That seems to help get me on track. But boy it sure isn't easy.
If you are reading this and trying to dedicate yourself to something health related, my support is with you. Overcoming habits, addictions, lethargy, etc. is not easy. Stay strong! We all have more strength within us than we know... if you hold on tight and keep with your goals (no matter how many tricks your mind plays on you) you will find your strength. I promise. It is there.
Ok, enough with the rant. More substantive updates soon.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
"When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too"
"No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it."
Re: the fear of pursuing dreams...
"Tell your heart the fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams..."
Have a great week!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Guess its a good day for breathing. (although if there is something in the air, maybe not :))
Try Dr. Weil's 4-7-8 breathing technique (if this doesn't work well for you, I sometimes do 6-3-6 or 8-4-8, but I do all through the nose; Dr. Weil recommends for 4-7-8 using the mouth to exhale)
Note on breathing- nose breathing helps oxygenate the blood, which in turn calms the nervous system and makes for a happier self :)
From Dr. Weil
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath.
Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens - before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Although most meditations you do sitting up so your spine is straight, this one you do lying down.
Lie flat. Keep your eyes closed.
When you breathe in, visualize a great light entering through your head into your body, as if a sun has just risen close to your head. Imagine the light is pouring into your head and going all the way down to your toes.
When you breathe in, continue to imagine the light pouring in and cleansing your whole body.
When you breath out, visualize a dark river entering your toes and going out through your head.
Go slowly and breathe in and out through your nose. Inhaling to the count of 6 and exhaling to the count of six is a good starting point... then increase over time as your lungs allow. Again, do both the inhale and exhale through the nose so you cool your system.
I find it very relaxing. And a nice way to take time for ones self... even if just 15-20 minutes a couple times a week.
(Note I learned this meditation technique from "The Everyday Meditator" by Osho- http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Meditator-Practical-Guide/dp/0804819769/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236096118&sr=8-1)
Monday, February 23, 2009
You can find in natural food sections- Fred Meyer has a brand called "Knock Out" I used for a while. Now I am using a a brand called "Now" that seems more effective. I've seen it at Whole Foods, New Seasons and Vitamin Stores so pretty common.
I'm currently just taking 1mg which seems just fine. I've heard one person say she got used to it over time, so she only took a few days a week not to build up tolerance. I haven't had this problem, but something to consider if you do. Another person told me she started having bad dreams over time, so cut the dosage in half and it was solved. I think you can actually take more mg, but one seems to work for me.
Overall, great solution- and natural! :)
Couple other things that help...
Child's pose helps if you do before bed (stay in for 3-5 minutes+)- see the following site for instruction- www.yogajournal.com/poses/475
Breathe- try inhaling through your nose (mouth closed) to the count of 6, hold 3, exhale 6 through your nose (mouth closed)... do 5 rounds (if you can inhale more, try 8-4-8 or 4-7-8)... more on breathing later, but this is a very soothing activity to do in bed and it will calm you into a restful state. Be sure to do all the breathing through your nose... its more cooling on the system.
Or you can go to the poppy fields and hope the wicked witch of the east shows up :)
If you have other natural remedies, please post comments. This seems to be a very common problem.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Go to this site and keep hitting the cornify button. (hehehe).
‘“There is now compelling evidence that smiling causes people to feel happy. Requiring people to smile, no matter how they really feel at first, results in increased positive feelings; frowning conversely decreases positive feelings. Robert Zajonc and his colleagues show that smiling leads to physiological changes in the brain that cool the blood, which in turn makes people feel happy. [A series of experiments] show that positive emotion and cooler facial temperatures result when people saying the letter “e” or the sound “ah” over and over again, apparently because making these sounds requires a smile-like expression.
These [experiments] also show that negative emotion (and hotter facial temperatures) result from repeating sounds like the letter O or the German vowel ü, apparently because making these sounds require a frown-like expression to pronounce. This effect was found to be equally strong in both German and American research subjects. These researchers also found direct effects of temperature on emotion, demonstrating that people who have had cold air blown up their noses are happier than those who have had hot air blown up their noses. Hundreds of other studies show that hot temperatures are a powerful and reliable cause of foul moods and interpersonal conflict (especially aggression and violence).
So, if you want to be really weird, try increasing happiness (and thus creativity) by having your people say “ah, ah, ah,” “e, e ,e, e,” or perhaps saying “cheese” over and over again, blowing cold air up their noses, or just keeping the buildings cold where creative people work. Or as Jane Dutton at The University of Michigan told me after she heard Robert Zajonc talk about these ideas: “When I want to get in a good mood, I’ll just go home and stick my head in the refrigerator.”’
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Alive Whole Food MultiVitamin (can get with or without iron)http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?id=NW-1176
TwinLabs Liquid B Complex (liquid absorbs better; this is SO great for the nervous system- I feel a significant difference when I am taking this)
Carlsons Vitamin D- 5,000 mg (most people in NW are deficient so higher dosage is good)-
Floriva Liquid Iron (LOVE THIS STUFF- expensive, but good)-
Carlson Fish Oil (yum ;-) ... good for the brain)-
I take a bunch of amino acid supplements too that I will write about later. Still learning about them.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
It wasn't about my physical reflection (although that left a lot to be desired ;-) ). It was about not knowing who I was looking at. The stress of life had taken hold and I'd repeatedly made poor choices for myself to try and find joy.
Unfortunately, these choices only made it worse. To be specific, I didn't spend a moment thinking about what I was eating, I drank too much, and exercise was a rarity. I blamed it all on having a stressful job, not having time and/or needing to relax.
On the morning of May 19, 2004, I decided I was going to make a change. I was tired of my own excuses and procrastination- it was a now or never moment.
So I bit the bullet, gave up drinking entirely, hit the gym and yoga every day and slowly became more mindful of what I was eating.
It's been a long journey in the past five years, and quite frankly not an easy one. I've had to face myself. I've had to say “no thanks” a million times. I've had to stay very disciplined in a very tempting society. I've had many, many moments where I have felt like an island and no longer part of the fun.
But... not a day goes by that I am not grateful for the decisions I have made (and more grateful for the support I have had). Why? Because I can face myself in the mirror each morning with more peace and knowing I am acting lovingly toward myself.
I've decided to start this blog to share my learnings. With life being as stressful as it is, I have the greatest empathy for people's needs for relief, escape and bonding. I too need them, and in my journey have picked up some interesting tools- breathing, yoga, laughter, vitamins, fresh food and good friends/family.
I'm highly dedicated to living a healthy life, so as I learn things that help me do so I will share.