Living Free

On dictionary.com, independence is described as freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.  This morning I read an article about why Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise – who knows if it’s the truth or not, but allow me to use it as an example that could be true.  The article gave many examples of how TC has not allowed KH to live independently – where he stifled her ability to live her life in a way that made her feel free to make her own choices.  The reason I use this example (not just because I secretly think I could have been a celebrity reporter – a legit, respected one! ) is that I think this type of relationship can be common.  I would bet each of us knows of a couple where one of the people is overbearing in a way that is not healthy.  It comes from a place of fear – for both the one controlling and the one allowing themselves to be controlled.

On this day, the day our country gained its independence, my wish for all of us is to recognize when others are attempting to control us or influence us in a way that does not resonate with our core values and belief system.  Oprah often talks about when something in our life is not quite right (a choice, a relationship, a job, etc.), that the universe lets us know and when we really pay attention, we truly know the right thing to do.

“I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like ‘hmm, that’s odd.’ Or, ‘hmm, that doesn’t make any sense.’ Or, ‘hmm, is that right?’ It’s that subtle. And if you don’t pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it’s like getting thumped upside the head. If you don’t pay attention to that, it’s like getting a brick upside your head. You don’t pay attention to that—the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people’s lives. And so, I ask people, ‘What are the whispers? What’s whispering to you now?'” — Oprah

Oprah’s mentor and friend, Maya Angelou, says – ‘when you know better, you do better’.  I think the knowingness of what we need to do and the reality of putting it into action can be scary.  Another powerful woman, Pema Chödrön,  asks us to ‘smile at fear – live from the heart’ and be filled with potential.  You cannot do that if you are controlling someone else or when you are living a life controlled by another person.

‘Be honest with yourself and be open to the world.’
Pema Chödrön

Hug it out!


Ha, ha… if you were an Entourage follower – you’d be smilin’ right now.

 

I was reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin today and though I’m not a huge fan of the book, I did gain some insights as great take-aways, including this interesting tid-bit.

Gretchen writes that in her research she discovered that when we hug it takes at least 6 seconds to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, the mood boosting chemicals that promote bonding.

So you don’t need to count the next time you give or get a hug, but if you are really in the moment, you’ll feel when it’s been at least 6 seconds.

Wishing you a happy, beautiful, amazing week!

~Maureen

 

 

TIMBo Training and Wholehearted Living.

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photo: Tracy Rodriguez Photography

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brené Brown – The Gifts of Imperfection

We all have a natural tendency to focus on the story. The story of why we are sad, depressed, angry, lonely, bored (insert other emotions here) and the feelings that result from them: guilt, fear, shame, resentment. The TIMBo (Trauma Informed Mind Body) Program is designed to more strategically address the effect that stress and trauma have on the body and the mind.

It’s okay to share and process our stories and equally important to recognize when we get caught up in the drama of the story rather than doing what we can to work toward healing the hurt associated with our emotions and feelings.

I’ve attended many workshops and trainings in my years of preparing to be a yoga teacher trainer and health/life coach as well as for my own personal development. The TIMBo Training has reinforced much of what I have learned in the past decade including:

> The Saber Tooth Tiger Syndrome (or as I affectionately refer to it: STTS) – a real or perceived threat to survival (when we have the urge to ‘fight or flight’) is the root of many of our reactions to people and situations. In the caveman (I prefer ‘cavepeople’) days, if you were dismissed by the clan, they would throw you out of the cave and guess who was waiting for you? Yup – the Saber Tooth Tiger – and it would be likely there would not be an option to fight and you’d be running for your life.

Watch this YouTube video about the affect of stress on our body.

> From the Buddha’s Brain book – the Path of Awakening
Being with what arises (mindfulness), working with tendencies of the mind to transform (virtue), and taking refuge in the ground of being (wisdom)

> There is nothing to fix! This is one of the first things Sue Jones (facilitator and creator of the TIMBo program – and also an EJ writer) said to the group. Five seemingly simple words. Sit for a moment and think about that. How often do we act and react from a place of trying to fix something or someone (including ourselves)?

> FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real
Lao Tzu wrote:
If you are depressed, you are living in the past,
If you are anxious, you are living in the future,
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

When we live in the present moment, we are aware of how we are ‘being’ and decrease our likelihood of being depressed or anxious – which is excellent since both those feelings can lead to feeling fearful and being stuck in sensations that don’t serve us. When we are living in the present moment, we can be present with something we need to process without being stuck in the past or the future.

Sue also reminded us that regardless of the trigger, fear is the same. We feel it in our body and it invokes a physiological response – which can be addressed via verbally processing the emotion/feeling, intentional breathing, yoga, and meditation. Sue reminds us that it’s a process – it is about learning to be okay where we are at and moving toward happiness. Not labeling an emotion as negative, being with it as it is.

ImageThe TIMBo Program is great for self-development as well as learning to facilitate groups and yoga classes for women who want to live more authentically and let go of emotions that no longer serve us/them. In this 4-day training you will meet women who will be your friends for life. The day after the training Sue wrote on her Facebook page: “Laugh with me and we connect for a day. Cry with me and we connect for a lifetime ♥.” This pretty much sums up how powerful the training was and how deeply connected I feel to the women who were at this training.       
photo: Tracy Rodriguez Photography

Post-TIMBO days/weeks also remind me of the post-Reiki training days – it’s emotional (in an awesome, powerful way), you feel fully present in your life, and you are really clear on what is leading you toward your life’s purpose and what is not. This training will change your perception and will provide you with the strength to move toward that which energetically and intuitively feels right for your life and will help you release from that which does not resonate.

ImageYou will need to be prepared to get in touch with how emotions are stored in your body – which is why it quickly becomes clear why Marika walked into the training room with multiple boxes of tissues. It’s quite cleansing and healing as we realize that life is not always about being happy and that we cannot truly know happiness without being familiar with sadness.

And we understand that we can experience confidence by recognizing our shame and we can move toward the light by having knowledge of the darkness. We need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable – which according to Brené Brown is an accurate measurement of courage. When we live truthfully, with courage, we are living authentically. (Two links below to Brené’s powerful TED videos):

TED talk: Vulnerability
TED talk: Listening to Shame

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What can we all do to live more wholeheartedly?

Consider one or more of the following to begin to build our toolbox:

> Shift judgment of reaction to the stories/feelings with Mindfulness Practices: Practice Pranayama, Yoga, Meditation

> Breathing off the mat – pay attention and lengthen our breath to change the physiology of your body

> Read, Learn and Be Inspired – here are some of my favorites: Brene Brown: The Gifts of Imperfection; Buddha’s Brain: Richard Hanson; Life Lessons – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler; Anatomy of the Spirit – Caroline Myss; The Power of Intention – Wayne Dyer; Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Wayne Dyer; Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – Deepak Chopra; A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle; Mudras – Yoga in Your Hands – Gertrude Hirschi; Creative Visualization – Shakti Gawain

> Life/Health Coaching

To process the stories of our lives so we can release the emotions that we attached to the story, when we are no longer attached to them in a way that is creating harm to our body, we begin the healing process and to understand yourself, learn about how your values and beliefs contribute to your actions and reactions.

> Attend a TIMBo session and learn to ‘put space between what you FEEL and what you choose to DO’.

> Recognize, and take time, to do what grounds you – nature, reading, yoga, spending time with friends & family, etc.

> Believe that you have the resources within to accomplish anything you want in life.

> Understand the concept of choice – Living Life, Making Choices

Every day we make choices.
We choose one thought over another,
we choose one behavior over another,
we choose to take one path over another.

When we investigate our lives,
existing with awareness
and taking responsibility for our choices,
we are choosing to live an authentic life.

For more info on Sue Jones:
www.yogahope.org
www.suejonesyoga.com

Be Who You Are!

Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

I’ve written about authenticity before and the topic came up again a couple of weeks ago during week one of the most recent Yoga & Wellness session that I am facilitating.  The word/concept inevitably comes up when we are talking about core values, beliefs and living yoga on and off the mat.

So, that led to my posting the Dr. Seuss quote yesterday morning on my Living Life, Making Choices Facebook page (if you haven’t ‘liked’ it yet – click on the link to the left) and then the topic of ‘keeping it real’ arose again when I spent time with a good friend yesterday.  Where is this leading me, you might ask?  I’m not sure – I don’t really have a detailed, thoughtful post here, but feel that it’s important to trust my instincts that someone needs this message today.

So, I’ll keep going with the flow…. I’ve been thinking about how even when authenticity is one of our core values – it can be challenging to be real all the time. I pride myself upon being authentic and truthful.  I do, however, find myself thinking carefully about how I word things when I am delivering a message that I think might disappoint someone.  My friend reminded me of the importance of Dr. Seuss’ words…. if someone ‘minds’ my truth – and/or I find it difficult to deliver that truth, then I should ask myself how much it matters since I am not responding authentically.

This is not new information to me – I know this – I practice this in my life pretty regularly, so what does it mean when I find myself spending too much time thinking about how to word something …. nothing, really – just a gentle reminder.  No judgment of self, no harsh words for others… just a gentle reminder.  Those who matter – they really won’t mind.  So say what you want to say.

Then I think – well this might not be realistic for us to do with everyone in our lives 24/7.  So if we think about times when there is someone who we can’t say ‘it’ to, we can consider if anything needs to be said at all because most times – it doesn’t.  Pay attention and you’ll be surprised how many times you feel like you REALLY need to say something and when you think about it, you really don’t.

Thanks to my friend, Tee – for her wise words and to my friend, Linda for the beautiful photo in this post – from the North Country of New Hampshire!  And thank you, readers, for accepting this post as is…. usually I take more time and edit, edit away, but this one – I want it to be as it is.  Thanks for not minding!

What do we want for our children?

To be happy.  To give and receive love.
To be well in body, mind & spirit.

How to do this?
Mindful Parenting.
Instilling self-esteem and self-confidence.
Being an excellent role model.
And a whole lot ‘o love!

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development states when children are preschoolers, they try to behave in ways that involve more ‘grown up’ responsibility. At this age when they take initiative, it is important parents react in a positive way to instill self-esteem and self-confidence otherwise the child may feel confused and/or guilty about their behavior.

Sometimes we confused shame and guilt, so let me take a moment here to talk about the difference between them. In her wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfections, Brené Brown defines shame as – I am bad, and guilt as – I did something bad. In the chapter Origins of Guilt, from the book Guilt and Children, Karen Caplovitz Barrett states that Jerome Kagan’s Theory proposes that guilt is not possible until children can recognize that they can choose how to behave and he states that does not happen until the age of four.  In a journal article (yup – I’m a Grad Student) from 1982, Martin Hoffman describes ‘healthy guilt’ as an appropriate response to harming another and is resolved through atonement, such as making amends, apologizing or accepting punishment.’ He describes ‘unhealthy guilt as ‘a pervasive sense of responsibility for others’ pain that is not resolved, despite efforts to atone.’

As a Life/Health Coach I frequently hear many clients talk about feeling guilty, so let’s take it just a bit further so we understand for ourselves (if we tend to feel guilty) and so we have some information about how to address this if we are still raising children. Brené Brown’s  research shows that children who use more shame self-talk (I am bad) versus guilt self-talk (I did something bad) struggle mightily with issues of self-worth and self-loathing. Using shame to parent teaches children that they are not inherently worthy of love.  (Thank you, Brené, for that last sentence, which may explain a lot for so many.) Furthermore, in research about shame and guilt in preschool depression (say – what?! – preschooler depression?!), it was determined that high levels of shame and pathological guilt are a known feature in adult depression. So, it’s easy to see the importance of being mindful of how we deal with our children from the emotional standpoint.

How do we act and react with others? What is our communication style? How do we spend our time? When we live with intention and purpose, we are modeling for our children. Brené Brown (2010) writes in The Gifts of Imperfection: Where we are on our journey of living and loving with our whole hearts is a much stronger indicator of parenting success than anything we can learn from how-to books. I believe that when we evaluate our own values and beliefs and determine if we are living in alignment with them, it can be an important part of evaluating our parenting style.

Think about the following when parenting (really when in relationship with ANYbody)

  • Treat children with respect, always.
  • Show them unconditional love, especially when disciplining.
  • Set limits and be consistent, challenging and a must!
  • Spend time with your kids. Not just ‘with’ them – but WITH them.  Be present.
  • Decision-making – give them choices rather than telling them what to do.
    (exception would include – when it involves their safety)
  • Demonstrate by example. Be an excellent role model.

They are all important, for sure, however, in closing – I’d like to take a look at the fourth bullet. It is about spending quality time with your kids. This reminds me of the song written, and performed, by Harry Chapin – The Cats in the Cradle. It’s about a father who is too busy for his son. As he is growing up the son says ‘you know I’m gonna be like you, Dad’.  The son wants to play catch. The son asks the father to spend time with him in various ways, but the father is always working or busy and doesn’t make time for his son. Then when the son is grown, and has a family of his own, the father is not as busy.  The father asks his son to spend time with him and the son says ‘I’d love to Dad, if I could find the time. You see my new jobs a hassle, and the kids have the flu. But It’s sure nice talking to you, Dad, It’s been sure nice talking to you……..“ And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me – He’d grown up just like me, My boy was just like me…………..’

Living Life, Making ‘parenting’ Choices – what are they for you?

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings.
~ Hodding Carter, Jr.

Numbers do not define us


#1 – Age:

I turned 51 the other day – I don’t feel 51 – wait a minute – I’ve never been 51 so I don’t know what the heck that is that suppose to feel like!  I recall as a teenager when someone was forty or fifty, they seemed really old.  Ha, ha…. perspective!  Here’s what I do know today – living life provides us with experiences and the opportunity to learn lessons and gain wisdom.  This feels very good at 51.

“As you grow in wisdom, you’ll learn to embrace and love others for who they are, looking for benefits they offer you knowing that they represent parts of you’ve buried or disowned.  Wisdom means thanking others for bringing to your awareness those areas, and for being grateful that they’ve given you this opportunity to love.”  Dr. John Demartini

# 2- Weight:

In 2007 I weighed 113 pounds.  I am 5’5” tall, so I have no business being 113 pounds. (I should be more like 128-135 – the range where I am currently).  One day, when I was way too thin, a student came into the yoga studio and said “I have not seen you for so long, you are so thin, you look great!”  The next day I was in Vermont visiting my friend, Kathy, who said “You look thin.  How do you feel?”  Perspective, eh?  One person – likely fixated on thin as a good thing and another person truly seeing her friend and expressing concern.


#3 – How much money we earn/have:

I know wealthy people who are not happy and I know people who have little money and live abundantly in many ways.

Whether rich or poor, people make choices about how they spend money, and those choices can boost happiness or undermine happiness. It’s a mistake to assume that money will affect everyone the same way.  ~ Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

#4- Facebook:

Today I viewed my FB page (Living Life, Making Choices) and noticed I had over 700 ‘likes’.  I was very surprised because I recently recall having less than 400.  When I noticed the significant increase, thanks to Simple Steps, Real Change, I was surprised and pleased.  Then as I was thinking about this post I wondered –  why am I happy about that?  Is it because you like me, you really like me (think Sally Fields)?  When we are living our life, making choices that resonate for us – we should not focus on how many people ‘like’ us.  It’s not to say I do not appreciate every single person who ‘likes’ my page, I do.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to reach people with  quotes and meaningful links that move me in the hopes it might also touch a chord in others, however, it is more important for me to stay grounded, be authentic and not get caught up in the ego.

See the link between your thinking and your emotions.  Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.  ~Eckhart Tolle

Please let me know what you think and perhaps provide examples of other numbers that you think should not define us!  I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog and hope you ‘like’ it!

 

Giving

I was reading an issue of Whole Living Magazine this morning when I came across a wonderful article about a woman who has/is donating $100/day to worthy causes throughout 2010.  Her name is Betty Londergan and her blog is: What Gives 365.

Betty’s blog inspired me to consider a similar idea for 2011 – to donate money and increase awareness about:  1) great organizations doing great work, and 2) individuals who have encountered hardship.  It is my intention to highlight how individuals, and leaders who start meaningful organizations that help others, ‘live life and make choices’ transforming challenges and uncertainty into hope and inspiration.

I also want to tie the monthly cause(s) to what is important to folks in my life and submit donations in honor of those people (in place of a birthday gift).  For example, my sister in law’s birthday is in February and she loves animals, so I would either ask her to help me decide where to donate for that month or I would chose an animal friendly organization that is doing something extraordinary to contribute to the peaceful existence of animals.

My commitment is threefold
1)  donate something each month
– I have an idea of an amount for the month, but I intend to be flexible and fluid with where and how much to donate as I become aware of need.

2) include family & friends in the giving
– to celebrate their birthdays and honoring my relationship with them.

3) keep my blog more current than I did in 2010
– writing about cool people and organizations that inspire us to live our lives in a way that make a difference.

If you know of an individual or organization you would like to be considered for a donation in 2011, please reply to this blog or email me at: mmillernh@comcast.net.