DON’T BE DISTRACTED:BE HERE NOW

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Anywhere, any time, just look around you and see what your eyes are drawn to.  Now simply notice what your eyes are seeing, without thinking about anything.  Next, notice what you are feeling in your body.  You will notice relaxation.

This is because the seeing happens in the here and now, in the present moment.  When you focus on simply seeing what you see, it brings you into the here and now, where there is no threat.  The tension in our bodies is often from thoughts about the past, or the future, which can be experienced as posing a threat.

Repeating this very quick and simple practice, which is called orienting, is very good for you.  It allows your body to be relaxed and your mind to be quiet.  This is a pleasant and useful state that is desirable to live in, to the greatest extent possible.  When we are here, we are grounded, and can perceive things more clearly.  Here, we can gain insights and understanding.  Here, creative ideas and solutions can come to us.  Here, we have access to the best parts of ourselves: our love, compassion, and wisdom.   Also, the present moment is the only one that actually exists.  The past and future are memories or anticipation, fabrications of the mind.  So when we are in the here and now, we are more fully alive.  You will notice a freshness, a sense of discovery and wonder there.

You can orient yourself to the present moment by using sight. Or, you can focus on other senses.  For example, you can orient to something that you hear, taste, smell, or feel.  All our sensing happens in the wonderful here and now.

Orienting is a very simple activity that is pleasant and very good for you.  I invite you to make a regular habit of it.  Enjoy!

Thanksgiving–How Can It Change Your Life?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We all hear so much about giving thanks, and what a great idea it is. But really, does it make a big difference?

You bet it does!

Whether things are going very well or very poorly in life, anyone can find something to be grateful for. Regardless of the circumstances, feeling grateful will help you when you’re feeling discouraged. Giving thanks will really enhance the good feelings when you’re in a positive frame of mind.

Some people experience much gratitude than others.  But wait for it – research has shown that those who experience more gratitude do way better both emotionally and physically.

So what should one do with this information? Well, look for things to be grateful for.  Even in the face of something quite difficult, one can find things to be grateful for. It’s all about that “silver lining”.  For example, someone in the hospital can be grateful for a nurse’s kindness, good medical care, or someone’s visit.  Someone stuck on a delayed airplane can feel grateful for the rich conversation he had with a fellow passenger.  Someone grieving the death of a loved one after a prolonged illness will be comforted to know that their loved one is no longer suffering. Someone experiencing interpersonal conflict can be grateful for the personal growth it is leading to: becoming more tolerant of differences, more assertive, or more forgiving.  There are so many inspiring stories of people facing huge hardships who were able to look at the positive things and feel gratitude for them.  One of these is Victor Frankl, who describes his experiences in a concentration camp in his book, “Man’s Search For Meaning”. It sold over 50 million copies. I highly recommend it!

There are many things that we tend to take for granted that we can genuinely feel grateful for.  These include health, family, friends, work, nature, art, food, comforts, challenges, personal growth, and even life itself.

Gratitude tends to go along with a belief that you are loved and deserving, and that the Universe is benevolent.  These are healthy and adaptive beliefs.

When you share with others what you are thankful for, you invite them into gratitude too. What an awesome way to get closer to those you love.

Over time, as you practice noticing things you can be grateful for, it becomes a natural habit, and an incredibly healthy one that makes you happier.  And over time, it can become an even stronger habit!

 

TAMING WORRY

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Many people  are worriers, and know of family members who are worriers, as it tends to run in families, so may not think much of it.   However, depending on the degree of worrying, it can be quite distressing or interfere with functioning, in which case it is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD.  Some of the symptoms that may go along with the excessive worry in GAD are:  restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating,  mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, and symptoms of anxiety in general, such as lightheadedness, foggy or spacy head, racing thoughts, dry mouth, tight throat, tight chest, shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, shakiness, flushing, sweating, sweaty palms, discomfort in the solar plexus, including butterflies, nausea, cramps and diarrhea, pressure over the bladder, needing to urinate frequently when there may not be much there, tingling in the extremities, and weakness in the legs.

Obviously you do not need to have all or even many of these symptoms to have GAD.  Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a condition which is treatable with medication and therapy, so you don’t need to continue suffering unnecessarily.

Worrying is not only useless; it is harmful.  Whereas some people may believe at an unconscious level or even a conscious level that it is protective, it is in NO way protective, nor does it change anything except for causing suffering to the one worrying and those around.  Planning, on the other hand, which is done from a calm place, if it’s necessary, is very useful.

Apparently, about NINETY FIVE PERCENT of what people worry about NEVER takes place, and the other 5% we have no control over and is not affected by the worry (except in possibly a negative way if you believe in the manifestation of negative energy).  Worry is just a bad a habit, and fortunately can be unlearned.  The majority of the time, things go well, and when we can trust that we  can deal with what might occur (which is unpredictable), there is no need to worry.

Many people who have a habit of worrying know other family members and people who worry, and so assume that it’s natural to worry, and are surprised to find out that not everybody would worry in a certain circumstance.

Life with less worry is much easier and more pleasant for an individual and for those around them.  More time and energy can be freed up to be enjoyed and devoted to constructive, enjoyable, or creative endeavors, and to just enjoying being present in the moment with a relaxed body.

A good anti-worry antidote is to install in your body, either with the inner resource or Emotional Freedom Technique or both (both articles on this blog ): “The past is over,  I am safe now.  So I expect things to go well, and I can handle whatever might happen.  So there is no need to worry.”

Even if you’re used to it, it doesn’t make it pleasant.  If you  feel your life would be improved significantly with less of the above symptoms, I encourage you to get help, as both medication and therapy can help, with a combination of the two often the most helpful.  Your family doctor could be a good place to start.

 

CELEBRATE!

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One thing we were all naturally good at as children, but tend to lose the ability to do to various degrees, is finding pleasure in small things, or celebrating.

Whether it is jumping up and down and clapping one’s hands, shouting “Yay”, or just quietly feeling gladness, pleasure, gratitude, or even relief, celebration is a habit that can be fostered and practiced, to the benefit of the celebrator and those around.

 What to Celebrate

 Where thought goes, energy follows.

There is so much that we can celebrate, including things that we can so easily take for granted, such as our freedom, fresh air, the sunshine, good food, life, health, relationships, etc.  There is so much beauty, power, and wonder in nature that are very worthy of appreciation.

Very often in life there are situations that can be likened to the glass being half empty and half full.  Obviously what you focus on is going to greatly affect how you feel.  So while it is important to acknowledge and grieve losses, if one looks for the “silver lining(s)” that is in every cloud, one will surely find it (them) and benefit.  Having physical limitations that limit enjoyable activities that one used to be able to do,  I and others who have chosen to focus on what we CAN do rather than what we cannot do, have found this attitude very helpful to our mental state.

I have met many people who on their journeys have difficulty acknowledging and celebrating their progress.  This can be because they feel that they have a long way to go, because they have not “arrived”, or because of fear of going backwards.  Thankfully, the truth is that there is absolutely no risk and it is perfectly appropriate and safe to celebrate any movement in the preferred direction.  This allows one to feel any combination of self-appreciation, pride, gladness, gratitude and relief.  Any improvement in another’s behavior can likewise be celebrated.  When you give them positive feedback about the improvement that you have noticed, this positive reinforcement will speed up their improvement.  When undesirable behavior in another is diminishing, the successful acceleration of improvement through giving positive feedback is called shaping.

Basically, fostering a habit of focusing on the positive and celebrating it, you find that there are so many positives to celebrate, and that it is an enjoyable habit that improves your life.

Why celebrate?

There are many good reasons to foster the habit of celebrating:

First of all, it engenders positive feelings, such as happiness, gladness, joy, gratitude, relief, self-appreciation, or appreciation of others/nature/God.  It can also make us feel awe, wonder, amazement, and humility as we celebrate  the ocean, a star-studded sky,the beauty of a flower, the amazing human body, or even what we can with technology these days, etc.  Positive feelings are enjoyable, and shift us away from negative ones, thus helping us if we are struggling with a stressful situation or with symptoms of depression or anxiety.  Therefore, positive feelings are good for our mental health, and because we feel our emotions in our body, feeling tense muscles and other unpleasnt bodily sensations with anxiety, and pleasant body sensations with positive emotions, it is thought by many that good mental health is beneficial to physical health.

Secondly, “success breeds success”. So celebrating leaves us with positive feelings that improve our performance.  For example, celebrating losing two pounds is likely to leave us feeling encouraged, optomistic, and feeling capable, increasing the chances of us persisting in our efforts, whereas judging that as not enough or not worthy of celebrating is more likely to lead to feeling discouraged/hopeless and giving up.

A habit of focusing on the positive and celebrating often co-exists with a habit of being optomistic and expecting the positive.  This leads to more calmness as opposed to worrying, and pleasurable anticipation.  Obviously, these habits do not interfere with appropriate planning.

When one is feeling positive, that positive energy is picked up and enjoyed by those around.  You are more pleasant to be around, you are more likely to be treated in a pleasant way in response to your pleasantness, leading to more positive interactions with others and better relationships.  You may inadvertantly brighten someone’s day.  You may inspire another to also be more positive.  Because of the ripple effect, your big smile or friendliness can have far reaching positive effects, essentiallly helping to make the world a better place.  Like Ghandi said, peace in the world begins with peace within.

Important Implications

The more you truly believe that you are loveable and deserving, and that you live in a benevolent universe, the easier it is for you to focus on the positive and celebrate.  And the more you focus on the positive and celebrate, the more that will strenghthen the belief that you are loveable and deserving, and that the universe is benevolent.  It is very good to foster the true beliefs, and to foster the habit of celebrating. The two can be done simultaneously, and will feed each other.

When something negative happens, as it undoubtedly does in everyone’s life, rather feeling like a victim or feeling like you might be being punished for being bad, you will know that this is part of your journey, which has to include challenges if you are going to grow.  You will know that you are good, and not being punished.  You will know that everyone suffers, and can feel connected to the rest of humanity through that common experiencing, feeling compassion for yourself, and for your fellow humans.

What forming a habit of celebrating is NOT

It is NOT ignoring the pain, stress, and difficulty that everyone experiences in life.  It is not judging yourself or others for being negative. It is not denial of situations or problems that are appropriate to grieve or be aware of and take appropriate action to try to resolve, if possible. In these situations, you will find that the positive attitude and its accompanying belief in the truth, will help you feel more empowered and thus effective in dealing with challenging situations, more compassionate towards yourself and others, and have an easier time accepting things that are difficult to accept.

Forming the habit of celebrating

Like any habit, it takes more effort initially, then later comes more and more naturally.  All day long, make a conscious effort to look for positive things, and positive aspects of situations.  The more you look for the positive, the more you will find it.  Look everywhere: in constant things you take for granted, in nature, in any movement in the preferred direction, in you, another, or a situation.  Then give yourself a little time to feel whatever positive feelings come up with celebrating it.

This will result in a re-wiring of your brain, so that over time, the noticing of things to celebrate and celebrating them becomes more and more of an ingrained habit that occurs naturally.

Because it is a pleasant and beneficial habit, it will have a self-reinforcing element. The more negative you are when you begin, the more re-wiring it will take, and will feel foreign at first.  It’s perfectly OK for healthy patterns to feel foreign at first.  There is nothing dangerous about positive change; it can feel uncomfortable initially though, because it is unfamiliar.  I have had motivated clients who rarely celebrated and had a very strong habit of self-judgement develop the habit of celebrating quite quickly.

Good luck with practicing your habit of celebrating, and enjoy feeling happier!

NEURONS THAT FIRE TOGETHER WIRE TOGETHER

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We are creatures of habit.  The more we have thought, felt and acted a certain way, the more we are likely to again.

When we think of or visualize someone we know, we can think of how they “are”: how they tend to talk, think, or rub their nose.

That is because neurons that fire together  wire together, creating a tendency to fire together again, thus forming a habit.

We also know that presented with anything new, a person automatically tries to make sense of it based on what they already “know”, with the left brain quickly coming up with explanations or “stories” to make things fit with prior experience, whether these are true or not.

The research that has been done around this phenomenon is fascinating: For a transient period of time after an electrical impulse has been transmitted along the axon of a neuron, the electrical charge along the axon is altered such that another electrical impulse is more likely to take that same route.  In the movie “What The Bleep Do We Know”, pictures taken through an electron microscope, which has huge magnification, showed how the way that neurons were organized in relation to each other actually changed as a person changed their way of thinking.

Other research looked at a PET scan, which looks at brain activity and blood flow, prior to then just following a therapy session where a trauma was cleared.  The PET scan was very different comparing the before and after scans.

This is because, fortunately, we have something called neuroplasticity. In other words, we and our brains are capable of change.  Whereas, our brains are most plastic in infancy and become less plastic the older we get, we are still capable of significant change at an advanced age.  I recently said good-bye to a lady in her eighties who reported to me that never in her life had she ever experienced less worry, less guilt, and more self-worth as she was enjoying, and that she was looking forward to having more enjoyment in the rest of her life than she ever had before!

Here is a helpful metaphor: If someone has a strong habit of judging himself and experiencing guilt, that habit can be thought of as an 8 lane highway.  The first time he experiences understanding and compassion towards himself, trusting that he is a good person and is doing his best, that very unfamiliar feeling can be thought of someone having walked along a new way through the trees and bushes.  As he  keeps experiencing this new way of being, there gradually becomes a distinct path through the trees, which gradually becomes wider and wider, til eventually there is an 8 lane highway there, and where the old highway of guilt was there is now a narrow path through the trees.  By inviting himself to experience self-compassion again and again, he is literally transforming himself, or “reprogramming the computer”, so that he gradually experiences guilt less and less readily, and when it does come up, it is easy to replace it quickly with compassion.

I have had many people tell me:  “That’s just the way I am” or “I will always be that way”.  Because a habit can be so strong, sometimes people cannot imagine being any other way, and mistake it for their identity.  It is NOT their identity.  It is just a very strong familiar habit.  These people have been happy to discover that they were wrong, and it was possible for them to feel loveable etc.

This is why it is so important  to invite yourself to experience positive feelings and truths in your BODY, where transformation happens, over and over. The negative harmful habits did not appear overnight, so unlearning them and replacing them with preferable ones is a process.

It only goes so far to say positive things without believing them. Two effective and powerful ways of INSTALLING truths in your body are outlined in:

-CREATING A POWERFUL INNER RESOURCE, and

-EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE

A list of important truths to install is found in:

-IMPORTANT TRUTHS TO INSTALL

All of these articles can be found on this blog.

ARE YOU A WORRIER

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Many people are worriers, and know of family members who are worriers, as it tends to run in families, so may not think much of it. However, depending on the degree of worrying, it can be quite distressing or interfere with functioning, in which case it is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD. Some of the symptoms that may go along with the excessive worry in GAD are: restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, and symptoms of anxiety in general, such as lightheadedness, foggy or spacy head, racing thoughts, dry mouth, tight throat, tight chest, shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, shakiness, flushing, sweating, sweaty palms, discomfort in the solar plexus, including butterflies, nausea, cramps and diarrhea, pressure over the bladder, needing to urinate frequently when there may not be much there, tingling in the extremities, and weakness in the legs.

Obviously you do not need to have all or even many of these symptoms to have GAD. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a condition which is treatable with medication and therapy, so you don’t need to continue suffering unnecessarily.

Worrying is not only useless; it is harmful. Whereas some people may believe at an unconscious level or even a conscious level that it is protective, it is in NO way protective, nor does it change anything except for causing suffering to the one worrying and those around. Planning, on the other hand, which is done from a calm place, if it’s necessary, is very useful.

Apparently, about NINETY FIVE PERCENT of what people worry about NEVER takes place, and the other 5% we have no control over and is not affected by the worry (except in possibly a negative way if you believe in the manifestation of negative energy). Worry is just a bad a habit, and fortunately can be unlearned. The majority of the time, things go well, and when we can trust that we can deal with what might occur (which is unpredictable), there is no need to worry.

Many people who have a habit of worrying know other family members and people who worry, and so assume that it’s natural to worry, and are surprised to find out that not everybody would worry in a certain circumstance.

Life with less worry is much easier and more pleasant for an individual and for those around them. More time and energy can be freed up to be enjoyed and devoted to constructive, enjoyable, or
creative endeavors, and to just enjoying being present in the moment with a relaxed body.

A good anti-worry antidote is to repeatedly install in your body, either with the inner resource or Emotional Freedom Technique or both (both articles on this blog): “The past is over, I am safe now. So I expect things to go well, and I can handle whatever might happen. So there is no need to worry.”

Even if you’re used to it, it doesn’t make it pleasant. If you feel your life would be improved significantly with less of the above symptoms, I encourage you to get help, as both medication and therapy can help, with a combination of the two often the most helpful. Your family doctor could be a good place to start.