Life can be hard – but shift happens

Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.

―Hermann Hesse

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We are experiencing a lot of pain out there at the moment.  A lot of women that I hear from in workshops and via email are going through hard times right now.  Children leaving home, friends and children suffering from addiction, dealing with divorce and all sorts of physical and emotional pain.

An article I wrote, Bouncing Back after Divorce was just published in Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s wonderful online resources.  Although the topic is bouncing back after divorce, the content, I believe, can be useful in coping with a lot of life’s painful events.

The messages are about taking care of YOU, loving yourself through the pain.  It’s not always easy to do, especially as women, we seem to have a hard time doing this.  But we can move through the pain, shift does happen!

The coping strategies I talk about in the article are ones that I talk about a lot on this blog:

  1. Get Creative
  2. Re-wiring your brain and paying attention to what you think
  3. Happiness and well-being
  4. Love yourself first
  5. Gratitude
  6. Paying attention to Distractions
  7. Paying attention to Inspiration

These coping strategies really do help, read about what you can do, starting right now.

We don’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how to act and learn from these events. Shift really does happen.

I’d like to close with a TED talk about surviving divorce.  But like everything else, the coping mechanisms described by Dr. David Sbarra, are applicable to most ‘What Now’ moments. One of his biggest suggestions is getting enough sleep – always really great suggestion!

 

I’d love to hear how shift is happening for you.  I love learning from all of you.
And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.
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Happy 2017 – A Year for Cultivating Gratitude

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
― Thornton Wilder

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Happy New Year! I think the general consensus is that 2016 was a rough year for most people, on so many levels.  But in this post I don’t want to focus on politics or difficulties, but instead on cultivating gratitude. A new year is the perfect time to be cultivating gratitude and a renewed focus on what you appreciate. And 2017 is in particular a great place to start because from a numerological perspective, 2017 is a “one” year. (In short: 2+0+1+7 = 10 = 1+0 = 1.) Numerology looks at time in nine-year cycles, in which a “one” year begins a new nine-year cycle of creativity, learning and growth. It is a time of intentions and planning for the next phase. The intentions and foundations you build in 2017 can help shape the upcoming years. A “one” year is the perfect time to set intentions and goals for yourself.  It’s an important year to take time for yourself and clarify the direction you want to travel. And a perfect time to focus on gratitude for what you have.  My new years message talks about this and about the importance of silence in your routine. You can read more about that here in my newsletter.  And if you want to read more about the science of silence, you can read about that in my article in Thrive.

Cultivating gratitude is so important as we enter 2017.  Psychology Today defines the benefits of gratitude as:

Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.

Another good reason to cultivate gratitude is:

“Your experience of life is not based on your life, but what you pay attention to.”

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And when you pay attention to what you are grateful for, that becomes your experience. It becomes your experience that life is good and full and wonderful.

I have often quoted Melody Beattie here but it is so appropriate, I have to do it again.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

 

In Japanese Psychology, on a wonderful site, The ToDo Institute,  seven principals for cultivating gratitude are given:

  1. Gratitude is independent of our objective life circumstances
  2. Gratitude is a function of attention
  3. Entitlement precludes gratitude
  4. We often take for granted that which we receive on a regular basis
  5. Gratitude can be cultivated through sincere self-reflection
  6. Expressing gratitude, through words and deeds, enhances our experience of gratitude
  7. Our deepest sense of gratitude comes through grace, with the awareness that we have not earned, nor do we deserve all that we’ve been given.

If you are looking for a way to focus on gratitude as 2017 unfolds, I suggest getting a ‘Gratitude Journal’ – and start by just writing down 3 things you are grateful for every morning before you even get out of bed. And if that feels too hard, then just think of 3 things you are grateful for before you get up. That’s a great start!

If you are feeling more ambitious, I can suggest a wonderful course on Daily Om! It’s a new course I have authored and it’s available here.  The course is offered with the option of selecting how much you want to pay. No matter how much you pay, you’ll be getting the same course as everybody else. Daily Om believes that people are honest and will support the course with whatever they can afford. And if you are not 100% satisfied, they will refund your money.  So what have you got to lose? It’s a great way to start the year.

I’ll close with a YouTube clip describing the course so you can get a better idea of what it is about.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you cultivate gratitude and it’s impact on you.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

Resilience!

The goal of resilience is to thrive.”

– Jamais Cascio

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The goal of resilience is to thrive, and we all want to thrive, right?  Resilience has been defined as that quality that allows some people face adversity and come back even stronger than before. Unfortunately though, as writer Maria Konnikova points out, the word ‘resilience’ is often overused. It is too often used in ways that drain it of meaning. But resilience doesn’t have to be an empty or vague concept. In fact, decades of research have revealed a lot about how it works. This research shows that resilience is, ultimately, a set of skills that can be taught.

Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient: a positive attitude and optimism certainly help. Resilience is considered such an important trait that in February this year, The New Yorker Magazine did a piece about the secret formula for resilience – ‘How People Learn to Become Resilient.’

The good news is that resilience can be taught. In research at Columbia, the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown that teaching people to think of stimuli in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when the initial response is negative, or in a less emotional way when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—changes how they experience and react to the stimulus.

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. Resilience is an important character strength in Positive Psychology. A resilient person works through challenges by using personal resources, strengths and other positive capacities of psychological capital such as hope, optimism and self-efficacy. Being resilient is absolutely linked with personal happiness.

But it’s easy to lose touch with that sense of resilience after facing a difficult time, and instead we can struggle with feeling purposeless and directionless. It is very easy to fall into a sense of listlessness and ‘stuck-ness.’ This belief that nothing will change can become embedded in your brain, creating a negative neural pathway. A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes.

Once those neural pathways are deeply embedded, changing them is not an easy task. I’ve talked a lot about the process, Creative Positive Reframing (CPR) on this blog.  But as we enter the holiday season, I thought it would be a good time to look at the 3 key actions involved in this process:  Identify, Reframe, Embed:

    1. Identify Negative Messages

    Action: We all have them – limiting beliefs that have become embedded in our head. Negative thoughts such as, “I can’t do it!” Or “It’s too hard!” are self-sabotaging.

    Practice: Interrupt it! Once you’ve identified those negative messages, shift your focus. Take a deep breath and interrupt your own train of thought . . . and get rid of it!

    1. Reframe the negative with positive statements

    Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations or questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral.

    Practice: Affirm it! Create positive statements and questions. Affirmations often work, but sometimes questions work better. If your affirmation is, “I can do it. This is easy!” and your brain argues back “No you can’t It’s too hard!” then use a question instead. Something like: “What can I do today to move forward?” Or mix the two in this way: “I am moving forward easily and effortlessly. What can I do today to move forward?”

    1. Embed it! Use Creative Visualization to picture the ideal and embed it in your brain

    Action: This next step takes the previous step and solidifies it; it is a powerful process. Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ to attain that which you most want or want to change. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative by imaging all the things we DON’T want.

     Practice: Visualize it!  The key to visualization is to first see what you want, and then create a mindset that you already have it and you believe you deserve it. Relax and be sure you won’t be interrupted. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.

    I’ll close by linking in the visualization from my book in which you can create your own sacred space to work from.

 

 

I hope you’ll take some time today to do this visualization. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this visualization, and how you manage to stay resilient.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

The Power of Silence

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.”

– Francis Bacon

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Silence. What does that word bring up for you? Does it bring up fear? No TV, no internet videos, no talking! Or does it bring up a craving? No distractions, no barrage of noise.

I’ve been thinking a lot of about silence and sleep lately because of some neuroscience studies I’ve read about recently. Research shows that sleep and silence are much more important for our brains than we imagined.

Much of this research corroborates the research I did for my Creative Positive Reframing (CPR) process. In this process there are three main steps: Identify, Reframe and Embed.

Identify the negative – and then do some ‘Synaptic Pruning’

Reframe with positive messages

Embed with visualization, meditation and silence

We all have lots of negative, limiting beliefs about ourselves and our abilities that exist in our brains.  One of the best ways to stop these beliefs from having a free reign in your brain is to stop focusing on them and focus on something positive instead. But once we are able to stop focusing on them, how does the brain get rid of those negative thoughts that exist in old neural pathways?

Our brains get rid of old pathways with a process scientists call ‘Synaptic Pruning’

“Imagine your brain is a garden, except instead of growing flowers, fruits, and vegetables, you grow synaptic connections between neurons. These are the connections that neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin, and others travel across.

“Glial cells” are the gardeners of your brain—they act to speed up signals between certain neurons. But other glial cells are the waste removers, pulling up weeds, killing pests, raking up dead leaves. Your brain’s pruning gardeners are called “microglial cells.” They prune your synaptic connections. The question is, how do they know which ones to prune?

Researchers are just starting to unravel this mystery, but what they do know is the synaptic connections that get used less get marked by a protein, C1q (as well as others). When the microglial cells detect that mark, they bond to the protein and destroy—or prune—the synapse.

This is how your brain makes the physical space for you to build new and stronger connections so you can learn more.”

Perhaps you are not as interested in the science, so suffice it to say, that the more you use a neural pathway, the stronger it becomes. But the opposite is also true, when you use it less, it gets weaker.  So once you identify the negative belief system, STOP focusing on it! But then the brain needs time to do some clean up, getting rid of the old synaptic pathways.

Our brains need time to prune a lot of those old connections away and build more streamlined, efficient pathways. It does that when we sleep. Our brains do this clean out when we sleep—your brain cells shrinking by up to 60% to create space for your glial gardeners to come in take away the waste and prune the synapses.

And in fact, you actually have some control over what your brain decides to delete while you sleep. It’s the synaptic connections you don’t use that get marked for recycling. The ones you do use are the ones that get watered and oxygenated. So be mindful of what you’re thinking about.

So be mindful of what you are mindful of. Replace the negative with something positive, Reframe it. Be conscious of what you focus on.

There is a saying in neuroscience that neurons that fire together wire together. This means the more you run a neuro-circuit in your brain, the stronger that circuit becomes. Rick Hanson explains this well in his article in Greater Good.  So if you want to take limiting beliefs and creatively transforming them so that they become supportive rather than destructive, this is how you proceed. Hanson explains that ‘You can change your mind, to change your brain, to change your mind for the better!’

Then finally we need some silence to help embed these new neural pathways. Visualization and meditation are key factors. I often talk about the power of visualization and meditation in this blog. So much has been written about it, there is no question that both of these practices are hugely beneficial to the brain and to life!  But what about silence?  More and more research is showing just how important silence is for our brains.

 A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons. “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system. In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.  The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence.

I’d like to close with a wonderful TED Talk by Nick Seaver called The Gift of Silence.

I hope you’ll take some time today and give yourself the gift of silence, and the gift of a great sleep as well. I’d love to hear about your experience with silence.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

Light wins over darkness – and the light is Love

“Anytime you try to be a loving person, you’re doing your part to save the world.”
― Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson has been such an important role model for me and countless others. And at the moment, she is doing a series of live stream videos.  Her message is so important.  The world feels like it is teetering between light and darkness, and her message is that it is vital to stay in the light – it is up to all of us!

The world is complicated, but Truth is not. As the world has practically exploded in violence this week, the temptation is to spin out emotionally, to try to escape the anxiety so understandable given that the world has gone mad.

But the craziness of the world outside us is no match for the holiness within. There is no real contest between the power of light and the power of darkness. Darkness can obscure the light, but it cannot destroy it. Light, on the other hand, dissolves all darkness. And the light is love. It is God. Each of us, in our own hearts, can now devote our lives in service to the light. And we can do so together, increasing the power of our prayers.

In all of our lives, this new level of service, this deepening of our devotion, will take a different form. Let’s begin by simply loving each other. Let’s take a moment to close our eyes and send love to our friends and family, to pray we might be better at everything we do, that we might be of greater service. Let’s put all our relationships in the hands of God, and ask that in the midst of a world gone mad that He make us very deeply sane. That He make us conduits of His power and vessels of His love, that together with Him we might save our world.

And then let us have faith. God has a plan, though He cannot do for us what He cannot do through us. He needs us to think what He would have us think and do what He would have us do, and love will prevail at last. Today and every day let us expand our hearts just a little bit more, that darkness shall fall away.

And it will. It absolutely will.

Let’s all commit to being conduits of the Light. Let’s all commit to Loving each other. Let’s not worry about what name we call Light – whether it is God, Infinite Wisdome, Divine Light – the name does not matter.  Let’s just commit to loving each other.

Our lives depend on it!

I’ll close with an older clip of Williamson’s – well worth watching.

 

 

Please share any thoughts about this subject, we all have to work together. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Visualization on Goals

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”
―Michelle Obama

That quote by Michelle Obama is quite fitting to me today for a couple of reasons.  I have been very busy with my own, very personal goal this week.  I leave for the US in only 10 days. I’ll be in the States on a book tour –  the realization of a long held goal and dream.  And one of the goals I have at the moment is to load all the visualizations and quick scans from my book on to You Tube. So as of today,  I have 15 videos loaded on to my You Tube Channel. No mean feat I can tell you!

I am also loading them on to my website, thiswayupbook.com, with each exercise loaded under the workbook tab, under it’s specific week where the exercise is in the book.  This has been such a steep learning curve for me, a 58 year old woman, with both sons living away from home. I’ve had to search up solutions to problems I’ve faced, watched endless youtube vids about how to load youtube vids onto youtube!  It’s been a mission . . . (*however I have asked for a lot of help from my sons who have done so much remotely, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea that I’ve been able to do this alone, because I haven’t.)

But the main point I’m trying to make here is that I’m doing it.  I have the goal and I am steadily walking toward it. It hasn’t been easy, but it is so worth it, and as Michelle Obama says, I shall not be distracted from my goals.

I would like to close, fittingly, with a visualization about achieving your goals.  Special thanks to my son Devin for composing the music and overlaying it on the video. And special thanks to my son Lukas for creating the website in the first place.  Yeah, like I said, I didn’t do it alone…

I would love to hear any feedback about how this visualization was for you;  I always love hearing about people’s experience with creative visualization.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Quick Scan on Health

“Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen”
― Shakti Gawain

Do you listen to your body?  Most of us don’t, I know I often don’t.  I push myself to do one more thing when my body is sagging or to run one more errand before I stop to eat.  But more importantly, do you listen and work on healing at a deep level.

Science has proven time and again that we can heal ourselves, but sometimes it takes focus and effort. For the most part, the body naturally heals itself. Dr. Lorraine Day wrote an excellent article about our body’s amazing ability to heal itself.

Deepak Chopra has a wonderful article about self-healing on Oprah.com.  Deepak Chopra has been a great proponent of self-healing for decades.  In the article Chopra advises:

Is there a way for each person to influence his body consciously? We do this all the time, of course. You can’t lift a finger, throw a baseball or drive a car without translating a mental intention into a physical response. But when it comes to disease symptoms, the mind-body connection feels weak or nonexistent. Every sick person wants to get well. How can the mind help?

There are four conditions that would insure a stronger mind-body connection during illness, and all are inter-connected:

  • The mind contributes to getting well.
  • The mind doesn’t contribute to getting sick.
  • The body is in constant communication with the mind.
  • This communication benefits both the physical and mental aspects of being well.

I believe there is a way to stay in a healthier state by using what I call The Quick Scan for Health.  I discuss this in my book:  This Way Up:  Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life.  I have also made a video modeling this exercise.  To be honest, I feel very vulnerable and exposed putting this on video, it is something I use daily, but only when I’m alone!  So putting it out there in such a public way is rather intimidating.  But I believe in it, and people have asked for help doing the exercises in the book, so here it is.

 

 

I would really love to hear how this was for you and if you have any comments about it.  And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

Creating Your Sacred Space

“Visualization works if you work hard”
― Jim Carrey

Shakti Gawain describes creative visualization as:

The technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life.  There is nothing at all new, strange or unusal about creative visualization.  You are already using it every day, every minute in fact.  It is your natural power of imagination, the basic creative energy of the universe, which you use constantly, whether or not you are aware of it.

We do this everyday, so we may as well do it consciously. I have found that the best and most effective way to do creative visualization is to first create a sacred space to work from.

Creating that sacred space is the first visualization exercise from my book This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life – from Part Two – The Workbook – Week Two, Day Three.

In my book, I have written out the words for the exercise, but for ease and simplicity, I have made a video to aid in the process.

You will find all of the exercises and visualizations from This Way Up on my You Tube Channel and also on my website:  www.thiswayupbook.com  

A huge thank you to my son Devin for his amazing music.  Devin composed and performed and uploaded this original music for my visualizations.  The music is absolutely mesmerizing!

Please give yourself 20 minutes to complete this visualization; and I suggest you take time to journal about it afterwards, making note of anything that might have stood out for you – a color, an unusual image, etc.  This is the same sacred space that you will go to for all future visualizations from my book, so take the time to create the perfect space for yourself.  The more you practice, the easier it is to do.  Enjoy!

 

 

I would love to hear any feedback about how this visualization was for you;  I always love hearing about people’s experience with creative visualization.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

This Way Up – An Introduction to the Workbook Exercises

“Fortunate are those who take the first steps.”
― Paulo Coelho

I have had several women contact me that are working through Part Two – The Workbook in my book This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life.

I know it can be hard to read the visualizations and exercises alone and try to remember them, so I’m here to help.

I will record and upload each visualization. They will be available on my You Tube Page  and on my

website www.thiswayupbook.com and on my Facebook Page. . . . You’ll find me everywhere!  You won’t be able to get away from me!

I do hope they are helpful.

 

Please let me know if you find the exercises helpful as I post them, and as always thank you for taking the time to visit. I appreciate it.

 

 

GNH – The Movement!

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Gross National Happiness has become a movement!

This message, the movement is about happiness and well-being that comes from living in harmony with nature, living in harmony and balance with others around you, and being in touch with your deepest sense of self, your highest wisdom, which transends culture and boundaries that are man made.  Possibly our best way forward in our survival as a planet.  It is about our truest, deepest sense of self in unity with all others.

Tho Ha Vinh, program director of the GNH Center in Bhutan describes GNH like this:

GNH is a kind of medicine, to heal the illness of our times. The first message of GNH is about reconnecting with our natural environment – in a way that we acknowledge, respect and value the sacredness and the interconnectedness of all life forms.  The second message of GNH addresses the economic crisis, which is more of an ethical and moral crisis than an economic crisis, so the second message is about creating a caring economy, an economy based on altruism and compassion; collaboration rather than competition and destruction. The third message of GNH is reconnecting with ourselves, with our deepest highest potential.

What a beautiful message. What an amazing philosophy.  It is believed that a lot of the meaninglessness that we experience in modern life is a direct consequence of our disconnection with nature, with others, and most importantly with ourselves.

It is time to reconnect with self. That is the beginning. It feels impossible to change the world! How can we get anyone in power to focus on GNH instead of GNP?  But it starts with ourselves, today it starts with me!

Thank you Jayne for sharing this with me, she’s always there to help, and I really appreciate her friendship!

Please take the time to watch this wonderful video. It’s so inspiring!

 

 

I’d love to hear what you thought of the video, and as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.