Grateful

On Resolutions

resolutions and your health

During this time of year, we often begin setting goals and dreaming big. We fill our journals with plans for the future and prepare ourselves for what’s next. We fill our heads with visions of sugar plums and make lists of endless possibilities. It all feels so magical and exciting, and it is! But sometimes in the middle of this beautiful process of expansion, we forget about gratitude.

The Winter Solstice, or the return to light, is the perfect time to pause and reflect and maybe even offer ourselves a bit of self-love. Sure it’s alluring to write resolutions like, “Next year I will get in shape!” But what if we sat under the sky and, with one hand over our hearts, whispered, “I am so grateful for my health, my resilient body, my ever-beating heart.”

Feel the difference?

I recently worked with a Mother who was going through a transition with her teenage son. She thought she was setting important goals and boundaries, but he expressed that by setting so many goals for his future, she was, inadvertently, sending him the message that who he is, currently, and all of the things he is accomplishing right now, was all somehow not good enough. Until he shared that with her, she truly never realized that’s how it was all coming across. I think the same can be said for how we speak to ourselves. When we repeatedly declare, “Next year I will be thinner/smarter/better!” We may also be sending the inverse message to ourselves that who we are, today, is just not good enough. And that’s simply not true. We are radiant, brave, resilient beings.

Try this:

  1. Carve out 10-15 minutes of your time between now and December 21st to sit quietly and try this practice:
  2. Take a few deep cleansing breaths, allow your muscles to release any tension, and repeat, “I love, accept, and respect myself.”
  3. After you’ve done this for 5 or 6 deep breaths, think of the things you’d most like to change in the new year, and then see if you can offer yourself some grace and compassion in those areas. Find the gratitude from which to build your plans of evolution. If you get stuck finding self-kindness, just repeat the mantra, “I love, accept and respect myself.” When your 10-15 minutes is up, it is my hope you will feel lighter and more at ease.

Being motivated to become better versions of ourselves is an incredible feeling, and when we can do so from a place of reverence for the gift of what already is, I believe our chances of feeling fulfilled multiply tenfold. Even when we are exhausted, or angry or just totally ready to close one door and open another, granting ourselves permission to find the beauty in the imperfect NOW, is truly powerful.

No Time Like the Present

Anyone who practices yoga regularly is probably aware of the benefits yoga has on mental health. They each compliment one another on so many levels and the integration of yoga with mental health is becoming more popular by the minute.

Yoga and mindfulness especially, are all the rage these days. It seems everywhere I look, there’s a new study on how yoga can help with depression, anxiety and ease stress or relationship tension. How slowing down to become more ‘mindful’ can help us to make healthier choices and teach us new ways of coping to unpleasant, unpredictable life events.

The benefits are written about everywhere, yet people remain challenged in starting a regular yoga practice. I see this struggle in my patients as they come in session after session, reporting back to me with reasons why this week {yet, again} they could not make it to their mat.

I get it. Starting something new is difficult. Especially when it involves slowing down, getting centered and becoming grounded in your body. Emotions, fears and anxieties are bound to come up. However, yoga can be extremely healing and having a consistent yoga practice can be so supportive to emotional well-being.

SO… for all the curious newbies who are aspiring to start and keep a consistent home yoga practice, but are a little unsure of where to begin- I will outline a few simple steps to get you going.

Number one. Intention.

I suggest you become aware of why it is you want to start a yoga practice in the first place. Is it to help with your insomnia or anxiety? Do you want to lose weight? Perhaps you want to get to a calmer, more relaxed state of mind. Whatever it is, it’s okay. Intention is key to so many things in life, which is why I think it is essential to any yoga practice.

An example may be, “My intention to start a yoga practice is to slow down my racing thoughts so that when my children/partner/life become irritable/frustrating/demanding, I have the necessary tools to help me deal with the situation at hand.”

Number two. Time.

 I suggest practicing yoga in the morning. A morning yoga practice is my preference for many reasons, but mostly because this is when the mind is most clear. Plus, it’s the perfect time to get grounded and start your day with that intention you set! A morning practice can also help keep your energy lifted throughout the day. If that’s not a possibility for you, it’s perfectly okay. Practicing yoga around the lunch hour or in the evening can work well too, to refresh the mind, help release tension and counter afternoon fatigue.

Number three. Space.

A small, private room in your home or office is ideal for a daily yoga practice, although any quiet space that is large enough to roll out your yoga mat is perfectly doable. A balcony or grassy, quiet area in your yard can be a lovely place to practice if the weather permits. Just make sure your phone is off and you are not likely to be disturbed for a while.

I like to put on either a mellow or upbeat playlist and depending on my mood, will light a few scented candles. This is completely optional and really depends on you and what you’re feeling on that particular day. I always encourage my students to listen to their intuition and to trust it. Once your yoga practice becomes more consistent, your ability to tap into your intuition with more regularity will also strengthen.

That’s it! That’s all you need to start. Intention, time and space. These three things, in conjunction with the most critical piece {your breath} can provide you with the opportunity to develop a consistent, fulfilling yoga practice within your own home. Keep in mind too, that if you’re able to make it to a local yoga class, that’s a great way to build connection and be a part of your community.

Most importantly, go easy on yourself, have fun with it and enjoy the process. Learning something new can be challenging! Give yourself permission to fully experience whatever comes up.

Exhausted with Expectations?

learning to live with your expectations

Expectations. We all have them.

Have you ever found yourself feeling sad or disappointed in a relationship and not known why? With a little reflection, you may realize you had an expectation about something or someone and didn’t even know it. And neither did they.

To help bring awareness to your expectations, take some time to explore what your expectations are and how you acquired them. Often times, we pick-up messages about what relationships are suppose to be like and how we should be treated by others from movies, TV, family, and friends. If we don’t take time to consider our expectations, then we may accidentally adopt other people’s expectations that simply don’t work for our relationships or for us.

Unmet expectations can be detrimental to a relationship. Expectations can feel overwhelming and uncomfortable to the organic flow of relating to another person. If we have expectations of others and are really attached to the outcome, then we can engage in power struggles by using manipulation or control tactics to get our way. This strategy often leads to conflict and unhealthy dynamics where partners do not feel free with one another, do not act authentically, and most importantly may not communicate honestly with each other.

Coming to the realization that your partner cannot live up to your expectations or ideals can be devastating. Couples can feel disappointed, frustrated, betrayed, or resentful and move to end the relationship because of unmet desires and unfulfilled expectations.

SO… What can you do?

 

1. Own it.

That’s right- Take ownership for your needs and desires! The truth of the matter is – we know what we need better than anyone else. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to get our own needs met. If we give our ownership to others (by expecting others to magically know what we need and give it to us) than we can feel dependent, powerless, and misunderstood. Taking ownership also inspires action. We realize we have the power to create change. Also, we have the opportunity to nurture ourselves in the ways that we need it most. This is a difficult practice, but it can be very empowering.

2. Express.

Yep. Communication is KEY. Express your needs, desires and expectations to your partner. No one can read your mind. Have you ever consciously expected something from someone, but didn’t voice it? Usually, this is a recipe for disappointment and resentment. How is someone suppose to know what you want if you don’t tell them? Even if they get it right once in a while, it sets up a dynamic where two people are operating on assumptions, which leads to miscommunication and frustration. Get in the habit of making your needs known and stop expecting those around you to read your mind or “Just know” how you feel and what you need.

3. Speak Up.

Sharing your needs and desires with your partner may seem scary and vulnerable because it requires you to open yourself up and acknowledge that you have needs – this can make you feel vulnerable to the other person. What if they don’t care enough to meet your needs? But, what if they do? Imagine being able to ask for what you need in a clear and clean way (to own it, without making it someone else’s responsibility) and then to receive it from someone who genuinely wants to give it to you. This can truly be a transformational experience and a doorway to deeper intimacy. By taking ownership of our needs, desires, and expectations, we can work with our partners. We can help teach them what works and doesn’t work for us, and then we have the opportunity to learn and grow together.

4. Empathize.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Usually, people are doing the best they can. And your partner probably loves you in the best way he/she knows how. This is important to remember when you are holding your partner up to an expectation or an ideal of yours. It may be helpful to consider, the question “How would I respond to the situation if the roles were reversed?” This is often easier said than done, especially when one feels hurt and protective. Trusting someone and giving them the benefit of the doubt can be extremely difficult if you have experienced a lot of hurt and betrayal. It is important to keep track of your wants and needs. If you are taking responsibility for your needs, then you will be more likely to take care of yourself and not harbor resentments in your closest relationships.

5. Seek.

When opening up to your partner, if you feel a strong negative reaction, feel threatened, or really self-protective- than this may be a good indication that you have underlying hurts carried over from your younger years. These hurts will DIRECTLY impact your current relationships unless you deal with them. There are many opportunities to heal and grow, through self-help books, articles, groups, and psychotherapy. It’s never too late to learn new skills and to start practicing them. Your love-life may actually depend on it!

6. Allow.

Allowing space for people to meet you in the best way they know how can be a truly satisfying experience. When we lift our unspoken expectations off of our partner, share with them what we need in a genuine way and then step back and allow them to meet some of these needs we might be genuinely surprised and happy with how things go. Try and practice allowing things to happen in a new way and you may get new results you are very pleased with.