Do You Embrace Your Emotions?

Daily we find ourselves in situations, conversations and thoughts, all of which evoke a certain emotive response. With the wink of an eye we may become happy, angry or grief stricken. Like it or not, we are emotional beings. When we choose to let the emotions move through us in tears or shared conversation, their intensity naturally dissipates. However, when we choose to hide them, the emotions seep deep into our being, awaiting the perfect moment to explode.

Out of fear or pure negligence, we oftentimes bury our emotions. In response to rejection or hurtful words, it is natural to feel the sting of hurt. In the same way, when faced with challenge or uncertainty, we naturally feel fear. Our emotions are a powerful part of our inner guidance – a blessed gift of our humanity- so long as we acknowledge, honor and release them. It is when we fear these emotions that they cause us suffering.

While beautiful, life will always throw us curve balls; obstacles when we already feel weakened by challenge and loss when we feel as though we can lose no more.  In such cases, it is tempting to shove our emotions aside, choosing instead to busy ourselves with distractions. These infamous distractions take a myriad of forms, from seeking the external validation of a prestigious job to seeking a life of perfection. In truth, our current society is a fertile breeding ground for living a life dictated by constant busyness and distractions.

Today, I propose an alternative solution: what would happen if we chose to befriend our emotions instead of ignoring them? How could our lives look and feel if we chose to experience our emotions, instead of avoid them through distraction?

In his book Living Without Regret, Buddhist scholar Arnaud Maitland suggests that we can reduce suffering. He shares that suffering is a choice. One way to do so is to "treat an emotion as a guardian or spiritual friend, instead of a foe.” In truth, our yoga practice serves as a wonderful opportunity to sit with our emotions, allow them to move through us and to be fully present. Through asana, pranayama and moving meditation, we are offered a rare opportunity, to embrace instead of avoid; what a lovely gift.

In your yoga practice, how can you befriend your emotions? What does your anger, sadness or grief, have to teach you?

Feeling Addicted to Your Smart Phone?

Howdy everyone!  We are halfway through January, and I just wanted to see how everyone is doing with their goals/growth this month.

I know the goals we have for this month to help us grow are a bit difficult at times.  Anyone who is currently taking any of my group fitness classes knows that the beginning of class is turning into a therapy session for what we are discovering are some uncomfortable addictions we have developed. 

I have loved our discussions in my classes about what everyone is discovering about themselves, and the goals they are setting for themselves.  It is so wonderful to see a group of people come together in class, share their struggles and growth, and then encourage each other in the same breath.  I truly believe that working together to help each other succeed is what makes our communities and lives better.

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To be honest with you, I thought the most difficult goal for everyone would be giving up technology after 7pm.  However, I've discovered that both giving up artificial sweeteners and technology are proving to be equally difficult for most people, and some are throwing temper tantrums, and asking me why it is even necessary for them to do/try all this. 

Through emails I've received, and discussions we have had in my classes, I've noticed that we all need to realize that we have formed some unhealthy attachments to things that are harming us (myself included...BIG TIME).

Basically, we all have addictions in life (there isn't a person out there that doesn't have an addiction to something) and we need to look at those addictions and decide if they are healthy and fulfilling, or if those addictions are damaging and/or hindering our lives. 

Today's blog post will focus on cell phone usage.  I'll start it off by sharing my struggles with giving up my cell phone for texting, social media, games, etc. after 7pm, because I'm pretty sure everyone can relate to this struggle in one way or another, and sometimes learning about another person's struggles and successes motivates you to try harder.

I secretly suspected that I might be addicted to my damn (yup...I swear) cell phone years ago.  However, I didn't see the need to change my usage or see how my usage affected my life.  This month...actually, just the first week...I discovered that my cell phone usage was hindering my social life with my own family.  For example, anytime (in the past) when I heard my phone "ping" with a text message or social media message, I immediately grabbed my phone, checked it, and then responded.  That response then turned into me having to hold on to my phone and wait for the other person's response.  While doing this, and checking social media (I'm holding my phone, so I might as well get on Facebook and see what others have posted), I was no longer engaging socially with my son and husband.  They would talk to me, but I really wasn't paying full attention. 

How many of you do this?  Do you find yourself sitting with your family in the evening, but instead of talking to them and asking them questions about their day, you are on Facebook or another social media site, or you are sitting there texting multiple people?

I won't lie, the first week I felt like I was slighting my friends by not responding to their texts or getting to everyone's posts on Facebook and "liking" them.  However, as one of my friends pointed out, if someone is upset at you for spending time with your family, then they are the ones with the issues. 

By giving up my phone after 7pm...lately I've been putting it down at 6pm...I have been there with my family 100% and having tons of fun with them.  Not to mention, I just feel this huge sigh of relief and like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders when I put my phone down for the rest of the night.  I don't know why I feel this way, but I'm glad I discovered it so I can change my habits.

Recently I even had a gentleman come up to me and thank me for having his wife put her phone down at 7pm each evening.  He felt like his wife no longer really cared about him, because once their dinner was done she was on her IPad the rest of the night till bed and sometimes in bed. 

This made me think about how our spousal relationships (talking about sex here people) are affected by our addiction to our cell phones.  How many of us climb into bed, and then begin surfing on our phones.  Is this a "turn off" to our significant other, causing them to just roll over and go to sleep?  How does this affect your relationship?  Are you no longer noticing those "come and get me" signs your partner is throwing out there?  Just some food for thought.

After the first week of forcing myself to put my phone and IPad down (I feel that I have be available 24/7 for my job and business) I discovered that I felt less stressed and slept better.

Since I was all of a sudden sleeping a heck of a lot better, I went and did some research on cell phone usage before bed.

A growing body of research suggests that staring at the blue and white light emitted from digital screens prevents your brain from releasing the hormone melatonin, which lets your body know when it's time to hit the sack, so it becomes harder to fall and stay asleep. 

The secretion of this melatonin depends on the body’s circadian rhythm which is controlled by light exposure. A kind of blue light emits from your cell phone which interrupts the body’s circadian rhythm and instructs the brain not to release melatonin hormone. When you have a lack of melatonin, it is more difficult to fall asleep even after you have set your phone down for the night.   Therefore, using your cell phone late at night not only reduces the amount of sleep, but it also affects the quality of sleep. Moreover, if you check your phone message or email, or social media, or news before going to bed, your brain can become tensed which leads to uncomfortable night with intermittent sleep.  

Did you know that less sleeping can create trouble in your professional and social life? It can make your decision-making–skills weak and also your productivity gets poorer. Both short term and long term memory can be damaged which can lead to meaningless stress and anxiety. 

If memory damage didn't scare you enough, less sleep reduces your metabolism rate and makes you feel hungry. Thus, it increases the chances of taking unhealthy light meals and/or snacks throughout the day and leads to weight gain. 

Now I know parting with your cell phone is freaking hard to do, because in one survey 71% of Americans sleep next to their cell phone.  However, the damage it is causing you is worth you really examining your addiction to your cell phone.

Here is a quick video by Dr. Sigel describing the affects our nightly cell phone usage has on our sleep patterns.  I thought you would really lke it.

How to Give up Soda

Ok, you are a few days into your goal of no foods or beverages with artificial sweeteners added.  You are wondering if life as you know it has ended (or maybe having to let go of your social media life after 7pm has done that for you already).  I'm sure you are swearing at me and harboring evil thoughts.  I'm doing the same to myself, since I had to cut down on my caffeine intake (coffee addiction is a real problem for me...I seem to still think I can run on the stuff).

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Well, here are some steps to help you kick your soda addiction to the curb, and become healthier and happier for it!

1.  Don't go cold turkey all at once.

What!?!  You're telling me I can still have soda!?! 

Yup!  You can still have soda if you are someone who was guzzling down over 5 cans of the wretched stuff each day.  When one becomes addicted to something (addiction to artificial sweeteners is a real and horrible thing) you have to slowly come off of it.  Try cutting down to 1 drink a day for a week and go from there.

2.  Drink water!

Time to carry around a water bottle instead of a pop bottle!!  Drink that water when you feel the need to drink soda.  I definitely don't need to tell you all the wonderful benefits of drinking water.

If you are someone who just has to have some kind of "kick" in their water, you can always add/infuse fruit or mint to your water for added flavor.

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3.  Get your healthy eating on!

Instead of relying on soda to give you an energy kick, get your energy from eating healthy!  Getting your servings of fruits, vegetables, and proteins each day will give you the energy you need to get through your day without the extra sugar and caffeine.

4.  When all else fails...DUMP IT DOWN THE DRAIN!

Yup...Go take those cans and bottles, open them up, and dump them down the drain.  When the temptation is not there, you can not cave in to it.  Plain and simple.  AND DON'T BUY MORE!

 

Growing in 2017

Happy New Year Everyone!!

As each year begins, we find ourselves wanting to change something about our future, something about our body, something about our nutrition, something about our finances, etc.  Then, we set these huge goals with great intentions.  After a few weeks or months go by, we forget or throw those goals to the wayside....And, life continues.

Science has shown that it is better to take little steps when changing or wanting to improve upon ones life.

This year my goal is to help everyone #GrowIn2017.  We will take small mindful steps together throughout the year by working on two goals each month.  One goal will involve nutrition, and the other goal will be more of a "mental" goal.  Don't worry, I'm not going to require any extra work or time from you.

Life is always about growth.  We never stop learning or achieving as our life goes on.  Why not view our goals as growth?

Hopefully our small steps will help each of us grow in mindfulness, knowledge, strength, and love.  From there, hopefully, our growth will rub off on those around us.

For now, take this week to get back into your normal routine as you begin your New Year.  Settle in to your post holiday schedule, and we will start our new growth next week!