The Yin and Yang of Happiness

Do you want to be happy?

What a silly question. Of course you do. I’m assuming you are, like most of us, finding it rather illusive as it gets lost in the shuffle of day to day stress, old painful baggage, and life crises. Within all of these challenges, how do we find happiness?

Most of us are familiar with the stories of the trappings of reaching for happiness in the “material world” – money, possessions, sex, extreme thrill seeking, etc. Chances are if you’re reading my blog, you already know intellectually this is not the path to happiness – but you still may feel and internal tug towards it. This is normal. The your mind may understand what happiness is, if you’re body is unable to really settle into a deep sense of peace and goodness, of course it will feel compelling to reach for something to address that internal gnawing.

There’s an issue with going to far in the other direction, though. You frequently hear the phrase “Happiness can only be found within” being thrown around a lot. This can become a problem as well. With as wonderful as self-exploration is – whether through psychotherapy, meditation, etc – a potential pitfall is getting stuck in self-absorption, focusing on the problem, or constantly trying to fix ourselves or achieve some form of “enlightenment”. This can inadvertently end up programming low grade stress and vigilance into our nervous system rather than allowing it to follow it’s own inherent wisdom.

What we really want is balance between internal and external awareness – between yin and yang. Our brains and nervous system are built to have a natural pendulation between internal and external awareness. This fluidity tells are nervous system that all is ok in the world. Happiness is found in the ability to flow effortlessly between tending to the flux of our internal needs while also orienting to and engaging with the environment.

I invite to take a moment to do a little experiment:

1) Sit somewhere quiet and allow your eyes to wonder about the room. Allow them to settle on whatever they find interesting. Stay with just being interested – nothing more. Notice what happens to your body and breath as you simple allow this sense of curiosity to come to the forefront of your awareness Do this for a few minutes.

2) Now close your eyes and follow the natural ebb and flow of your breath. On the inhale, notice where your body how your body and mind feel. On the exhale, release any sense of holding. You’re not trying to “make” something feel better. You’re simply noticing if you’re stopping yourself from letting something move naturally and letting go of that inhibition. Allow the holding to release as it follows the exhale out. Be interested in what your body and mind are telling you. Listen. Do this for a few minutes.

3) Repeat step 1 for just about a minute.

4) Repeat step 2 for just about a minute.

5) Now just sit and notice how you feel and where your awareness goes spontaneously. Can you simply enjoy what naturally emerges from a sense of newness and curiosity?

If you’d like to explore this topic further, I have posted the link to my recent Teleseminar:

Taoist Breathing and Happiness ~ the Practice of Embodying Joy

on my 10 Minutes a Day to Relax Away Anxiety page – Click Here

I hope you enjoy!

And let me know how it goes 😉

 

Is Your Self-Care Time Quality Time?

I’ve been addressing the issue of self-care on and off for a while now. It’s becoming a passion of mine more and more. The first reason has been my ongoing exasperation around trying to find a way to motivate my clients to set that small amount of precious time aside each day for themselves. It seems to be perceived as either a chore or an undeserved decadence. The second reason is that, in the past few years of being a single mom, I’ve found myself struggling not to fall into such a pattern myself.

I was recently looking over some comments on my last blog regarding why self-care so hard for people. This one intrigued me:

For me, it is the disbelief that the positive effects will continue, or in other words, that my investment of time and discomforts in this new change will not pay off. It’s also the fear that some other “task” that I have to put off will result in regret. Now that I think of it, it’s time to get out my benefits and disadvantages exercise chart to determine whether to make my focus on the self-care a priority… Thanks for this great thought-provoking well thought-out article.

The thing that struck me most about this comment was that there was an inherent agenda that quality time with oneself had to produce a measurable product. I want to acknowledge, of course this is understandable. As a therapist, there is definitely a desired outcome to relaxation and awareness homework. I would just like to pose another vantage point to this issue.

A typical complaint I hear from clients is regarding talking to a friend or partner about their troubles and having it met with a fix it or fix you response. Most of my clients feel very hurt and frustrated by this and end up saying “I just wanted to be heard and understood!” Putting a condition on self-care time to produce a specific outcome could be putting the same type of pressure and conditions on yourself that make you feel so bad when you’re receiving them from your spouse or friend.

May I suggest experimenting with a different outlook?

What if you set aside self-care time each day in the way you would want your spouse or best friend to – no agenda, no desired outcome. What if you were to have no other goal than to really show yourself care, love, and support just because it felt good? Isn’t that how you want it to feel with those closest to you? What is the most beautiful and magical way you can imagine being with a child? A child wants to know you’re there just for them. They want to feel they are the world to you. That their very presence brings a smile to your heart.

What if this were the goal of your self-care time? Sure, you could still do your yoga or your meditation or whatever “goal-directed” activity you want. But what if the “goal” was quality time? How do you imagine it would feel to truly enjoy time with yourself? Would you tell a child “I’ll only spend time with you if you promise to behave perfectly and make sure that I have gained something productive out of my time with you”? I’m guessing your answer is No.

I’d like to invite you to try setting aside 10 minutes of quality time with yourself every day – at least for the next week.

Allow yourself to play, ponder, goof off, imagine, and just plain get interested in yourself. Use your practice, homework, or whatever it is to just be the activity you’re using to contain your special time with you.

Love yourself enough to try:)

Let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

 

Approaching Intention in a Relaxed Manner

Bringing a sense of listening and allowing into how you move. I encourage you to try this out with your practice. It’s meant to eventually generalize into all aspects of your life;)

Let me know what you come up with this!

Why Is Self-Care So Hard For You? – Let Me Know!

This week I want to ask you a very sincere question:

Why is committing even just a small amount of time a day to truly taking care of yourself so hard?

In my 15+ years as a psychotherapist, I’ve struggled with finding ways to motivate my clients to devote even a small amount of time to some form of relaxation practice. I haven’t met anyone yet who does not struggle with some amount of stress or anxiety. From all my years of working on myself personally and working with my clients professionally, the quality of life always comes back to the quality of the person’s nervous system. From a clinical standpoint, I can say most of our nervous systems are highly dysregulated. From an average person’s standpoint, that may feel like “jacked up”, “at a high rev”, “on edge” or, at the other end of the spectrum, “spaced out”, “depressed”, “dopey”.

I’ve been teaching my clients various body-centered techniques with the specific goal of recalibrating the nervous system. The results of this would be:

~ Feeling more relaxed, calm, and peaceful

~ Significant reduction in stress and anxiety

~ Overall mood improvement

~ Significant improvement in ability to handle both anger as well as depression

~ More skillful at handling challenging situations

~ More in touch with one’s intuition and sense of the Divine

With this list of potential gains, why is it still so hard to motivate people?

I had a lovely young client years ago who suffered from almost crippling social anxiety. She finally agreed to follow through with practicing just one technique I taught her daily for a week. She returned the following week and reported that she was amazed. The practice had reduced her symptoms by at least 60% in just one week of practice. She followed that up, however, with a coy smile – “I probably won’t keep it up.” WHAT?!

Wow. I was utterly astounded and perplexed. And still am. Those moments each day I can take for my self-practice are some of the best of my day. They bring me to such a place of inner calm, peace, and, quite frankly, pleasure.

I’m on a mission to start showing as many people as I can that they have the ability to alleviate a high percentage of their own suffering. For this reason, I’m putting together a program to get my point across – that it is possible, without massive time commitment, to begin making a big change in your life.

10 Minutes a Day to Relax Away Anxiety ~ the 21 Day Challenge!

So, I REALLY want to hear from you!

What makes the commitment hard?

What are you telling yourself as to why you can’t set that time aside?

Do you feel nothing will help?

Leave your comments here. I sincerely want to make this program work for you! I’m tired of seeing people needlessly suffer. I’d like to jumpstart your life into a Path of Healing!

If you’re old enough to remember the old Cybil Shepherd commercial: “Because I’m worth it!”

You Are!

Allowing Yourself to Feel Good ~ Embodying a Felt Sense of Pleasure

This video was inspired by a question from a student in my chakra class regarding the difference between a “felt sense” of pleasure versus gratitude. This is very important subject for the health of your whole being. I hope you take the time to watch!