Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Meditation, Mindset

A Practice Life (no do-overs!)

TL:DR:  I went on a hike. I learned I’m living life like it’s a practice run.  And I’m offering a new weekly meditation class.
 
As you may remember from my last letter, in May I did a 5-day silent meditation retreat at Spirit Rock in Marin County, California.  The retreat center is in gorgeous mountains just north of San Francisco, and the center is encircled by several miles of trails.
 
I love to hike, and I really wanted to check out the trails, but I am a fairly cautious, risk-adverse person.  I was put off by the posted warnings about ticks, snakes, mountain lions, etc. as well as by the fact that due to the silent nature of the retreat, I would need to do the hike alone.  Yet, this trip was about pushing me out of my comfort zone, and I was determined to take full advantage of what this beautiful place had to offer.
 
I got my feet wet by doing a short little 1-mile loop – the Two Arrows Trail. It was a beautiful little hike, and I survived unscathed.  YAY!
 
My confidence bolstered by a few more short loops, by Tuesday, I set my sights on the Great Loop trail.  This trail takes you up into the mountains behind the retreat center – into the wild.  It’s only 3 miles, but I was told it would take about 2 hours, due to the amount of climbing involved.  At the entrance to the trail, I paused to spray down my shoes, socks, and shoulders with anti-tick spray, and two fellow retreatants headed up the trail in front of me.  As I struck out after them, I realized that, while the person in front of me was obviously out for a long hike, the lead person was doing THE SLOWEST POSSIBLE WALKING MEDITATION EVER.  Lift foot, raise knee, lower foot, raise opposite foot, lift knee, lower foot.  SO SLOW.  He, for sure, had to notice the two women behind him chomping at the bit to get on up the trail.  And he completely ignored us.  We could, conceivably, go around him on the path, but… ticks.  And also – it felt rude to rush past someone who was meditating.
 
We both walked oh so slowly behind him, frustration levels building.  And also, I was trying to use this experience as a mindfulness exercise.  “Oh, I’m annoyed at how self-centered this guy is being. How interesting!  Or, am I the one that is being self-centered by assuming he should defer to my desire for speed?  How interesting!”
 
Eventually the fellow turned off onto a different path, and the girl in front of me and I struck off into the hills.  I don’t think she liked the sensation of me being so close on her heels, because she wandered off the path toward a lookout, and then my hike began in earnest.
 
I worked my way through some close brush that surrounded the path, and as I did so, I heard some rustling in the bushes.  I felt better NOT knowing what that rustling was, so I powered on without checking to see what was making those alarming noises. 
 
Eventually I passed the tree line and entered onto the sunbaked slope above, following steep switch-backs that took me to the very crest of the hill.  By the time I got to the top, my heart was beating out of my chest, I was insanely hot, and I was 100% alone.  The other girl was nowhere to be seen. It was just me, the sun, the grass, and the heat – my god the heat!
 
I contemplated turning around and going back down, afraid that the heat and sun and exertion would make me pass out and no one would find me until my bones were stripped clean by the coyotes.  I drank some water, let my breath and heart settle and decided to keep moving forward.
 
As I crested another one of the hills, in the distance I could see one of the bridges of San Francisco!  So beautiful!  But I didn’t stop to really enjoy the view.  In fact, I really didn’t pause AT ALL on the hike.  My main goal was to get the trail done as quickly as possible, not die, and prove to myself that I could do it.  And then, maybe, if I had time later in the week, I could do the hike again and actually ENJOY IT.  Once I knew that I could safely navigate the hike, then on the 2nd time through, I could pause, relish the sights and sounds, enjoy the feeling of exerting myself, enjoy being away from civilization for some precious moments.
 
As I started the downhill portion of the hike, I had a flash of insight.
 
I LIVE MY LIFE AS IF IT’S A PRACTICE RUN – BELIEVING THAT ONCE I KNOW I WILL BE OKAY, THEN I CAN GO BACK THROUGH IT THE SECOND TIME AND ACTUALLY ENJOY IT.
 
Oh boy.  What a fallacious belief.  While I believe that reincarnation is possible and probably likely, I am certain that I will never be Heather again.  I get just this ONE shot to live THIS life – to enjoy this life – to be ALIVE in this life.  How can I embody that realization, that TRUTH, instead of just holding it as an interesting thought?
 
I’m trying to figure that out. think it means numbing less, feeling more, pushing out of my comfort zone, pausing more, appreciating more, fearing less, worrying less, trusting more, loving more, hurting more, learning what is a Yes for me and following it even if it’s scary.
 
What does it mean to you to be ALIVE in this life?  What makes you feel alive?  What uplifts you?  What makes you feel expansive?  What arouses “terrible longing” in you?  (I’m not sure where I ran across that phrase, but it STUCK in my psyche as something that’s important).
 
That’s what I’ll be pondering this weekend. If you care to share your insights on these questions, I would love to hear them. <3
 
If you want to join me on this quest to live more fully, I have an invitation for you!
 
Many of us are stressed, overwhelmed, and burned out (burnt out??). And sometimes we are so stressed and overwhelmed, that we can’t even figure out where to start to begin to feel like a human BEING again.  There are SO MANY little things that we can do to help our systems start to relax, slow down, and reboot. And these things don’t have to take much time. Two minutes of intentional breathing can be all it takes!
 
In that vein, I am offering a weekly online class, Wednesday Reset. It’s only 15 minutes. We’ll meet from 12:45PM-1PM, so hopefully you can squeeze it in over your lunch hour. It’s $5. We’ll explore meditation, movement, breathwork, and mindset work in little, bite-size integrationable (I really think that should be a word) chunks. It will be fun, fascinating, and freeing (my 4th grade English teacher would be so proud of my use of alliteration there). (I love parentheses).
 
Here’s the link, if you want to join me!
 
Love,
 
Heather
 
Space to be Human Lab
Do you want to feel a little bit more at home in your body? Here are a few options that can help!

  • You can book a bodywork session here (prices range from $115 to $85).
  • You can book a free Wellbeing Coaching consultation here.  I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240.  You can read testimonials here.
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Awakening, Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Health & Fitness, Meditation, Mindset

The Attention Reclamation Project

Well hello there!  My apologies for being MIA for the past couple of months.  May was bonkers, which I’ll get to later, and I just cannot remember April for the life of me.  So.  There you go.  Life gets weird and fast as you get older.
 
Now on to May! 
 
In May I did something new – something I’ve never done before but have wanted to do for 10+ years – I attended a 5-day silent meditation retreat.  The retreat was held in gorgeous mountains just north of San Francisco at a place called Spirit Rock. 


For 5 days, my life consisted of waking up, meditating (either seated or walking), eating, not talking to anyone, more meditating, more walking, vacuuming a resident hall, meditating, walking, eating, listening to talks from very wise and honest teachers, chanting, sleeping.

  • 5 days of slowing down
  • 5 days of watching the machinations of my brain
  • 5 days of being surrounded by 100 other people who are also trying to figure themselves and the world out
  • 5 days of silence
  • 5 days of being outside for several hours a day
  • 5 days of actually SEEING with my eyes, FEELING with my heart, being IN my body/being my body
  • 5 days of living simply – no books, no TV, no mindless distractions

This gave me a glance into a different way to live. Yes, I have to work.  Yes, I need to communicate with other people.  Yes, I do need to live IN the world. I can’t stay on a gorgeous mountain-top in California forever and still be true to my other values

AND

I can invite more slowing down and simplicity into my “normal” life.  I can JUST DO ONE THING at a time.  I found that eating my morning oatmeal, when that is the ONLY thing I am doing, is a whole different experience. I get fuller faster. I feel gratitude for heartiness of it and the work of the cooks and volunteers who prepared it for me. 

I can bring mindful awareness into my daily life – watching my thoughts and CHOOSING which ones to follow, which ones to believe.  One of the teachers mentioned that our minds secrete thoughts, just like the pancreas secretes insulin. It’s just what the mind does.  It doesn’t mean I have to believe those secretions. I can just watch them.

I can be more careful in my speech.  Not being able to talk for 5 days helped me realize how many meaningless things I have an impulse to say (and usually just blurt out).  But on Retreat, I noticed the impulse to speak, realized that no one really NEEDED to hear my insightful commentary about the chilliness of the morning, and let the thought pass unvoiced. 

I can bring compassion to my own thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and I can hold space for others to explore their thoughts, feelings, sensations.  There is magic in compassionate curiosity – I wonder why I think that….  Of course I would think that…

I can keep remembering:

  • Life is not a problem to be solved.
  • When I am snagged by the thought stream, I am often fantasizing/planning, problem-solving for some future event that may never happen. I AM LIVING AN IMAGINARY LIFE.
  • We are not meant to SURVIVE.  We are meant to LIVE.
  • I can let go of the ILLUSION of control.
  • “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama
  • Even when I feel as if my meditation is a failure (e.g. I just cannot stay focused on my anchor), I know that with this practice, I am planting a seed of awareness that definitely will sprout in the right timing.
  • I am happier and feel better when I am outside A LOT.  Without my phone. Noticing things. Appreciating the beauty of nature.  Just BEING instead of DOING.
  • I can quit pushing and striving so much, and trust that things will work out.

There is so much more I could say and will say in future letters, but I am also trying to practice the lesson of “less is more.”

I hope you can create some space for some consciously lived moments today – even for just one breath in and one breath out – and notice that sense of freedom that comes from being right here in this moment, mind, body, and spirit united.

Love,

Heather

Space to be Human Lab
Do you want to open up space in your life for new possibilities to arise?  Both bodywork and wellbeing can help you regain your life’s energy.

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Awakening, Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Habit Change, Massage Therapy, Pain, Trauma

Every little thing gonna be alright

I’ve really been struggling with meditation lately.  I have a bad case of the “I’ll do it laters,” and then I often don’t end up doing it at all.  But last week I convinced myself to go sit down for just 10 minutes and be with myself.  I settled in, using a mantra to anchor my attention, “I am breathing in.  I am breathing out.”  Once I got settled (and convinced Huehue to leave me alone), I put one hand on my heart and posed a question, “What do you want me to know?” 


 
I should preface this by saying that asking the heart what it wants to say is a practice I’ve learned from Dr. Betsy Rippentrop.  I’ve tried it plenty of times, but I am usually met with total crickets.  I was beginning to believe that this concept of the heart actually communicating to me is a myth.  However, I just returned from 3 days of a deep dive into the Listening assessment technique taught by the Barral Institute, and what I learned there is that the more I can relax and let go of the anxiety about “doing it right,” the more I can actually feel.  I brought that same Listening quality of diffuse attention and unbiased invitation to the questioning of my heart.
 
This time something different happened.
 
This time I heard a little soft voice say, “Everything is gonna be alright.”
 
And I got choked up.
 
Everything’s gonna be alright.
 
That’s it. That’s all I needed to hear.
 
Everything’s gonna be alright.
 
I spent the rest of the day singing Bob Marley and aching to go to Jamaica again. 
 
I was blown away by the impact of slowing down, giving my inner Self a quiet moment to speak.  These moments are so blessed, so beautiful, and too rare.  And they are only too rare because I still struggle to prioritize taking time to allow them to happen.
 
If you struggle to hold space for yourself, as I do, here are a few tidbits that might help.

  1. Increase awareness by tracking behaviors.  I borrowed a daily Habits Tracker from Mr. Money Mustache, and I’ve been tracking about 5 habits that I want to do daily. If I do that thing, I get a beautiful X in the box. If I don’t, it remains empty and unfulfilled.  Tracking helps celebrate success and highlights opportunities to do better.  If you want a copy of the tracker, respond to this email.
  2. Tune in to your Why.  Why is this habit important to you?  When I remind myself that I am a better therapist, better teacher, and more chill human when I meditate, then I actually TAKE ACTION (instead of procrastinate), and go into the room, sit on my cushion, and meditate. 
  3. Work with someone who can hold space for you to slow down and listen to yourself.  This is the heart of all the services I offer to my clients – let’s slow down and open up space for something new to happen!  I have a hearty list of other practitioners who are excellent holders of space as well.  Let me know if you need help finding someone who plugs into your energy well. 

With that, I’ll leave you to your Sunday.  And remember:

Don’t worry….about a thing… cause every little thing gonna be alright.

With love,

Heather

Space to be Human Lab
Here is how you can work with me:

  • Bodywork:  Do you want to feel more ease and softness in your bodymind and feel more connected to your life energy?  In these sessions we partner together to listen to what your body needs and then provide it with the space and stimulus it needs to heal.  You can book a session here.
  • Coaching helps you reconnect with your Self, your needs, and your strengths – opening you up to new possibilities.  My client, Brea, said it so well:
    • “Sometimes you need the reminder to pause, to breath, to explore and how to hold space for all of that – Heather has helped me create that space and build trust in myself.”
    • You can book a free consultation here.  Through June 30, 2024 I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240.

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Awakening, Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Habit Change, Massage Therapy, Mindset, Trauma

Aging + Butts, Guts, & Breath

How old are you?  How old do you feel?  Did you know that there can be a different between your chronological age and your biological age?
 
I’ve been repeatedly hit over the head with this concept as of late.
 
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been trying to pay attention to my thoughts about getting older, but, dammit, I keep getting sucked back into the Matrix (aka Instagram)!  I start scrolling and see all the ways we gradually crumble as we age, and everyone has a very adamant opinion about what to do or what not to do in order to forestall or minimize this inevitability.
 
All of these messages hit me over the head with the negative aspects of aging, creating an anxious fear – telling me I should do more for my health – take more supplements, squeeze more health optimization into my day, buy more life-enhancing tools (saunas/red lights/crystals/special socks/etc.), give up more tasty things.  Yet I know I don’t have the time, money, nor energy to implement all these things that are MUST Dos, so then the overwhelm strikes, and my forehead puckers, and my breath hangs out in the shallows.  As my body marinates in this self-induced stress state, I notice more wrinkles, more stubborn pudge, more absentmindedness, and think, “Yep – they were right!  This is what happens when you get older.”
 
And then I’m reminded that all off the above is bullshit.
 
We are not the victims of our circumstances.  We have the power of choice over our thoughts.
 
And our thoughts can even influence how we age.  If we view aging as an opportunity to become more authentically US, a time to leverage our wisdom and explore new opportunities, then a new world of possibility opens up.  If we are curious instead of fearful about what the next stage of life can offer to us, we can open up more space to find our way.  We are not condemned.
 
Here are the 3 podcasts that have appeared in my life recently to remind me, “Heather – Watch what spells you are putting on yourself with your thoughts!”
 
Midlife is a Chrysalis, not a Crisis with Rich Roll and Chip Conley
 
Unspell Yourself: Words & Language to Break Free From Mental Slavery w/ Enlifted’s Mark England (Thanks for sending this to me, Lynn!)
 
The Mind-Body Connection, the power of mindfulness, and why age is nothing but a mindset with Rich Roll and Dr.  Ellen Langer (Thanks for sending this to me, Brea!)
 
And you want to hear something hilarious?  I already knew all the stuff they said in these podcasts.  I read about this stuff all the time.  I actually even wrote an article for Tune Up Fitness in 2019 about this topic:  Can Negative Thoughts Make you Sick – The Science of how Thinking Affects the Body.  I read, I believe, and then I forget.  I am assuming this likely happens to you too, which is why I’m talking about this topic YET AGAIN!  Let’s help each other reframe how we see the world, how we see what is possible for us, each other, our communities! 
 
One brief practice that could help you really FEEL how our thoughts and language affect our bodies and how our words change our experience of the world (this comes from the Unspell Yourself podcast) is as follows:

  1. Take a sentence that runs through your brain ad nauseum:
    1. I should start drawing every day.
  2. Replace Should with Could.
    1. I could start drawing every day.
  3. Replace Could with Can.
    1. I can start drawing every day.

 Did you notice how you moved from feeling “put upon” by the Should and moved into a place of empowerment with the Can?

Here’s another reframe, courtesy of Byron Katie’s The Work.  This is a sentence I hear A LOT, both from my clients and repeatedly from myself, “What is wrong with me??” 

  • How about: What is Right with me??
  • Or maybe, What is wrong with the WORLD, such that it causes me to feel there is something wrong with ME?

Interesting stuff!

And on a final note,

I WAS ON A PODCAST

Part of my 2024 mission is to do something every day that makes me non-comfortable.  When I’m comfortable all the time, life is cozy and boring and small.  My business coach invited me to be on her podcast, and I felt the fear and the excitement and said Yes!  Mindy is a consummate professional and made me feel so at ease.  If you are interested in origin stories, thoughts on how to get a handle on your solopreneurship, and how to take baby steps toward possibility, you can give it a listen here:  EP 176: Gaining traction in your bodywork business with Heather Longoria.

I wish you a most excellent week, full of questioning those default mode thoughts that are reinforcing old, outdated versions of you.  What is RIGHT with you?  What CAN you do? How can you choose your own adventure?

With love,

Heather

The Butts, Guts & Breath Tour

A guy goes to a psychiatrist. “Doc, I keep having these alternating recurring dreams. First I’m a teepee; then I’m a wigwam; then I’m a teepee; then I’m a wigwam. It’s driving me crazy. What’s wrong with me?”

The doctor replies: “It’s very simple. You’re two tents.”

If you’re too tense, you likely notice restrictions in your shoulders, your butt, your belly, and your breath.  I’m offering a class at One Strong Woman on 2/28 at 5:30PM.  We’ll be using Tune Up Fitness therapy balls, movement, and meditation to help escort you from feeling too tense to spacious and free.  We only have 10 spots open, so register here to secure your spot!


Space to be Human Lab

  • CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, full-body therapy that is beneficial for improved sleep, decreased pain, and improved resilience.  You can book a session here.
  • Wellbeing coaching helps reconnect to your Self.  We partner together to identify what where you want to go, why you want to go there, and how to get there.  You can book a free consultation here.  For a limited time, I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240.


QC Health & Wellness Pros Meetup

  • If you are a health & wellness practitioner, and you would like to connect with others in the healing field, you are invited to attend the QC Health & Wellness Professionals Mixer on 2/27 (we’ll have these monthly through April).  You can register here.


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Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Habit Change, Mindset

Maybe we actually CAN’T do it all

And that’s totally OK
 
“You need to learn how to start saying no to things you do want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life.”  Elizabeth Gilbert
 
I’m reading 4000 Weeks – Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman for the second time.  The first time I read it on my eReader, but then I had to buy the physical book because there were just too many passages that I wanted to underline, star, and highlight.  The core teaching of this book is that life is finite.  We have, on average, 4000 weeks to live, which means we have to make tough choices about how to spend our time.  We cannot DO all the things – all the laundry, all the exercise, read all the books, paint all the amazing landscapes, spend time with all our friends, pursue all the potential careers that tickle our fancy, etc.  As Elizabeth Gilbert so aptly said, not only do we need to say NO to those tasks that we don’t really want to do, but we also have to say no to tasks that we DO want to do, that are aligned with our values, and that are important. 
 
The author also notes that maybe the purpose of our lives, is not to be as productive as possible, but to experience more of the wonder of being alive. Hmmm….
 
When we think that by some magic combination of calendaring, To-Do lists, and self-discipline we will be able to get EVERYTHING done (and then we can finally let ourselves relax), we are fighting against reality. And we all know that that is a futile battle. We are setting ourselves up to fail from the get-go.  Here are a few reasons why we will never get everything done: 

  • Hofstadter’s law:  Any task you are planning to tackle will always take longer than you expect.
  • Parkinson’s law:  Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If we clear the decks, more work will come down the conveyer belt to fill the void. 
  • Eigenzeit – A German word that means the time inherent to a process itself (p. 33).  Things take the amount of time they take.

What can we do about this situation?

  1. Make tough choices.  Ask ourselves – what really matters?  Am I doing the RIGHT things?  “You have to choose a few things, sacrifice everything else, and deal with the inevitable sense of loss that results” (p. 55).
  2. Tune in to gratitude – we have been gifted a life to live, and we get to (not have to) make choices about how we spend this precious, finite time, which is life.  If we could do EVERYTHING, there would be less value in it.  When we CHOOSE to do something, it’s meaningful because we are making a commitment to do THIS vs. THAT (p. 69).
  3. Pay yourself first – Work on the most important project the first hour of every day.
  4. Limit Work in Process – (Heather, Ahem, pay attention!!) – Limit the number of projects you are working on concurrently to 3.  Otherwise, when you get to a difficult part of your current project, you will switch to another project, etc. – never actually getting any project completed.
  5. Ask yourself – might the demands on us be unreasonable?  Will we ever succeed in being efficient and disciplined enough to get everything done that we are asked to do either by ourselves or by others?  If the answer is no, then you know the Ask is impossible, and you don’t need to berate yourself for failing at something that is impossible.
  6. Teach ourselves to stay with the anxiety, discomfort, and guilt of not getting it all done (because it’s impossible to do so).  “Most of us invest a lot of energy, one way or another, in trying to avoid fully experiencing the reality in our which we find ourselves” (p. 29).  If we could just let ourselves BE uncomfortable for a while, instead of frantically wishing that things were different and striving to make them so, what would happen?

There is so much more in this book that is blowing my mind and giving me food for thought about how I live my life.  But for now, I’m going to sign off and go experience a little wonder and magic, or at least try to sit with the uncomfortableness of not getting my house vacuumed this weekend. 😛

With love,

Heather

Space to be Human Lab

Here is how you can work with me:

  • CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, full-body therapy that is beneficial for improved sleep, decreased pain, and improved resilience. Your body loves to be listened to!
    • If you would like to try this modality, you can book a free 30-minute introductory session here, and you can book a full session here.
  • Wellbeing coaching helps You figure out You.  We partner together to identify what where you want to go, why you want to go there, and how to get there.  You can book a free consultation here.  For a limited time, I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240. 

The QCHWP Mixer is Back!

  • If you are a health & wellness practitioner, and you would like to connect with others in the healing field, you are invited to attend the QC Health & Wellness Professionals Mixer on 1/30 (and we’ll have these monthly through April).  You can register here

P.S.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end!  As a thank you, the first 5 people who respond to this email with their mailing address will get a “Recipe for Calm” card mailed to them.
 
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Coaching, craniosacral therapy, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Meditation, Mindset

Push Off From Here

Well, it’s the last day of 2023.  That means I should be writing about goals, resolutions, last year’s reflections.    But my inbox is full of those, and I’m sure yours it too.  Instead I decided to share an exercise from the lovely book, Push Off From Here – Nine Essential Truths To Get You Through Sobriety (And Everything Else).
 
This book walks us through hard questions that guide us towards more closely examining (with empathy and gentleness), our shadow self – the parts of us that we try to hide away and pretend don’t exist, but which exert a tremendous influence on our actions.  One such powerful question is:
 
How am I choosing, creating, or attracting this situation?
 
Ooh boy. When I sat down and answered this question about where I am professionally and personally, I encountered some hard, enlightening truths.  These insights were informed by a book I just finished, Deep Work, which is about the need for deep, intense, undistracted work to create something of value. I realized that in so many ways, I am choosing the easy, shallow option when it comes to my career and to my personal health.  Let’s take the latter, for example.
 
I am 46 years old and entering that stage where one’s body goes all wonky due to tetonic shifts in hormones.  Or, at least that’s the story I have been telling myself.  I see the wrinkles becoming more obvious, the frotzy greys popping up, the pants that are feeling a little too tight, and I say, “Well, this is just what happens when a woman is almost 50.” 
 
And wow, what a disempowering thought to have. 
 
Which brings me to another essential truth from Push Off From Here – “It’s not my fault, and it’s my responsibility.” 
 
It’s not my fault that humans get older, but it’s my responsibility to nurture this body and to take care of it to the best of my ability.  Which is NOT what I’ve been doing.  Instead, I’ve been blaming age for what I’m experiencing in my body.  When I ask myself, “How am I choosing to age more quickly (biologically)?”, I realize the following: 

  • I am choosing inflammation by eating too much sugar, too much ranch dressing (so damn tasty), by drinking alcohol too regularly, by tidying up/doing dishes/checking Facebook instead of going for a walk or stretching.
  • I am choosing to spend my precious morning hours consuming more information instead of creating something new.
  • I am choosing to lounge in bed a few extra minutes instead of meditating.
  • I am choosing to believe that weight gain is inevitable as I age, even though I have evidence this is not true for everyone.  (There are some SUPER fit older women at my gym that are such a great example of what is possible).
  • I am choosing to believe that I am too old to be sexy and vibrant.
  • I am choosing mindless eating by watching TV while I eat.
  • I am choosing to reinforce bad habits by rewarding them with a dopamine rush (e.g. when I get an urge for a snack (usually due to boredom or because I am facing a challenging task), I reward that urge with a snack, and thus reinforce that pattern). 

I also do a lot of things to promote my health and wellbeing, but this exercise helped me shine a light on how many of my behaviors and beliefs are not serving me well.  And I am taking this information to heart and using it to form my intentions for 2024.

I guess I did end up talking about year-end reflections and goals for the next year, but that is where the Universe led me, and I am trusting the flow. 😛

I wish you a very happy, vibrant, engaging 2024!  Thanks for sharing your eyes with me, reading these letters, and sending me notes over this past year.  Writing is one of my most truest loves, and it means so much to be able to share it with you. If you have any topics you would like to hear about next year, please respond to this email.  I love your feedback!

<3

– Hlo

Space to be Human Lab
As you reflect on 2023 and determine what you would like to invite in for 2024, perhaps you’re realizing that you want more ease, health, and self-compassion.  Bodywork and coaching are two roads toward that destination.  Here is how you can work with me:

  • CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, full-body therapy that is so beneficial for improved sleep, decreased pain, and improved resilience.
    • If you would like to sample this modality, you can book a free 30-minute introductory session here, and you can book a full session here.
  • It can be surprisingly difficult to know ourselves and to know what we want!  In coaching, we partner together to identify what where you want to go, why you want to go there, and how to get there.  You can book a free consultation here.  For a limited time, I am offering a 6-session coaching package for $240.

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Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Meditation, Mindset, Pain

More & Less

Thanksgiving is in our rearview mirror, and Christmas is on the horizon, which means that 2024 is right around the corner.  Do you make New Year’s Resolutions or do any sort of planning for the upcoming year?  I don’t have specific goals yet for 2024.  But I have done some brainstorming on what I want for myself and what I want to infuse into my therapy practice.  Here is what I want in 2024:
 

MORELESS
GrowthSpinning
PausingRushing
BreathingHolding
SavoringRacing
TrustingFretting
AgencyVictiming
HopeDespair
ConnectingGoing it alone
BeingTo-Do-Ing
Listening to SelfListening to Others
SpaceTension
JoyAnxiety
MotionStagnation
WonderLogic
Self-CompassionSelf-Judgement
FluidSludge
CuriosityFear
FunDrudge
NoveltyRoutine
ExplorationDogma
WisdomOpinions
NatureBuildings
DiscomfortComfort

I loved doing this writing exercise. It was low-stakes, easy to get started, and the simplicity of it helped my monkey mind take a back seat. 


Here is me having Fun (instead of Drudge) – Mom made us homemade playdough on Thursday!!

What do you want more of?  What do you want to let go of? 

If you have 15 minutes, it might be interesting to make your own More/Less list and notice where it takes you, notice what surprises you, notice what happens in your body as you start dreaming about what life could look like if it was lived in more alignment with what you really care about.  Here is a 10-minute meditation that could help you tap in to your future self; it might give you some list inspiration!

If you need help crafting your own manifesto, or if you need a (literal) hand (or two) in making your More list a reality, here are a few ways you can work with me:

  • For hands-on help with finding more ease, motion, and fluidity in the body, you can book a bodywork session here.
  • For coaching help, you can book a 30-minute discovery chat with me here.

Next weekend I am heading to Chicago for the Upledger CranioSacral 2 class.  I am super excited to deepen my understanding of CranioSacral work, so that I can help my clients find more vitality, capacity, and resilience in this complicated world.
 
I hope you have an awesome Sunday and get to enjoy this Winter Wonderland!   

 
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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Productivity, Trauma, Uncategorized, Yoga

What Parts of Your Self Are You Missing?

Is all your pain typically on one side of the body?  What do you make of that?  Is it because of that snowboard crash when you were 15, where you landed on your tail bone SO HARD that you saw stars?  Did that accident create a scoliosis in your body, which over time concentrated all your pain on one side?  Or is it because you’re right-handed, and you use the right side of your body more, so it hurts more?  Or is it because you use the left side of your body less, so it hurts more because it’s weaker?
 
These are all plausible explanations for why your foot, knee, hip, shoulder, ear all hurt on that one side of your body, and there could be a zillion more physical reasons.  But guess what – we aren’t just physical beings!  We are also emotional, mental, and spiritual beings, which means that how we think, feel (or don’t feel), and live can create pain & sensations in our bodies.  And according to many teachers, medical professionals, and research, where we feel pain in our bodies can be a clue as to what is imbalanced.
 
For example, the right and left sides of the body represent different qualities.  The left side of the body represents more “feminine” or “Being” qualities; whereas, the right side is our “masculine” side, which represents more “Doing” qualities. Take a look at this list (which I received in Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind course).  

Left Side/Feminine/BeingRight Side/Masculine/Doing
ReceptiveActive/Doing
NurturingDirected
KindHard
GentleStable
DiffuseLogical
IntuitiveAchieving/productivity
Self-soothingOther-soothing
CompassionOrdered
Wild/naturalCompetitive
ComplexFocused
SensualPenetrating
VulnerableAggressive
ExpressiveInsightful
CooperativeDisciplined
TolerantTake charge
  • What qualities would you say are typically more valued in our society? Does our culture encourage us to explore, to be open and receptive to other’s ideas and ways of life?  Are we supported when we need to rest and restore ourselves?  Or are we typically encouraged to be productive, to be the best we can be, to trust logic and science over mystery and intuition?
  • Do you identify more with one side or the other?  How might your body be trying to get your attention by presenting you with pain on one side of your body? 

All of us, no matter our gender, need a balance of all of these traits to be a whole being. As I reflect on this list, I realize that while I have made progress in integrating more of my feminine side, I still am imbalanced.  For decades, my life has revolved around getting shit done, driving forward, and accomplishing things.  This focus started at an early age; growing up, I prided myself on not being a “girly-girl.”  I rarely cried.  I didn’t wear pink.  I was motivated to excel.  I was practical, sensible, reliable – the planner and organizer.
 
I’ve started to get to know my body better, to tune in to my inner landscape over the past few years, I repeatedly notice that my left side feels very dim and muted – almost as if it’s shy.  And I am beginning to understand why.  I have split off from my feminine nature.  And I am not the only one!
 
“In spite of the successes achieved by the women’s movement, the prevailing myth in our culture is that certain people, positions, and events have more inherent value than others.  These … are usually masculine or male-defined.  Male norms have become the social standard for leadership, personal autonomy, and success in this culture, and in comparison, women find themselves perceived as lacking in competence, intelligence, and power.”  Maureen Murdock, A Heroine’s Journey.
 
The author states that our quest at this point in our culture, is to fully embrace our feminine nature – that’s what we need to feel integrated, balanced, and whole. In working with my clients, both men and women, I’ve realized that is what we all want – to have  balanced lives, to be connected to all the parts of ourselves and to others, to understand ourselves, and to have the freedom to live in alignment with our true natures.
 
How do we do this?  How do we identify where we are lacking balance and start to rectify it?
 
There are so many tools that can help!  Journaling, meditation, working with a therapist or coach, taking to a trusted friend, getting bodywork.  All of these things help us slow down and show up for ourselves. 
 
How am I going about repairing this rift with my feminine nature?  Well, Wednesday afternoon between sessions, instead of studying or cleaning (aka DOING), I laid on the floor with my feet up on the couch and looked out the window at the trees and the sky (aka BEING).  I’ve also been doing a lot of journaling.  I’ve been prioritizing meditation over getting shit done.  I bought some new makeup and am trying to be more thoughtful about my appearance – taking pride in taking care of myself and looking pretty.  I’m inspired by one of clients and am considering taking a belly dance class.  What ideas do you have for healing the split between you and your Being nature?

If you are curious about your Self and would like to feel more integrated, self-aware, and appreciative of the yourself, I would love to partner with you.  CranioSacral therapy and coaching are both excellent resources for this journey back to wholeness.  You can book a bodywork session or a free 15-minute consultation here.
 
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Uncategorized

Avoiding Pain = More Pain

For several years I’ve been practicing primordial sound meditation, and at the start of each session, we are supposed to ask ourselves 4 soul questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. What is my purpose?
  4. What am I grateful for?

I was surprised, frustrated, and chagrined that I could never answer the first two questions!!  I am me.  How can I not know who I am??  How can I not know what I want??  It seemed as if there must be something wrong with me; what kind of person doesn’t know who they are or what they want??

Come to find out, the kind of person who doesn’t know what they want, is the kind of person many of us are!

This is a topic that arises with my clients super often, and – I’ve come to find out – a topic that engenders approximately a bazillion books.

I’m in the process of reading 4 such books right now: 

  1. Where You Go, There You are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It’s a book about mindfulness as a pathway to wholeness.
  2. Full Body Presence by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana.  It’s a book about connecting to our bodies and the wisdom therein, so that we can feel more whole.
  3. The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock.  It’s a book about the stages women go through to return to wholeness (to return to themselves).
  4. Push Off From Here by Laura McKowen. It’s a book how to recover from addiction to numbing, so that we can feel more whole.

These are 4 very different books, written from different perspectives, and yet – they all convey SUCH similar messages.
 
We numb ourselves – with busyness, food, drinks, taking care of others – so that we don’t have to feel our pain.  And we feel so much pain – not only due to the traumas of life and physical injury – but because we are split off from our authentic selves.  We all grew up in a world where we are told what to do, what to think, how to think.  Through our families, religions, cultures, ancestral heritage, we are conditioned to please, to obey, to look outside ourselves to some external authority for answers – even to the answers of Who Am I and What Do I Want.  And so we are in our 30s, 50s, 70s, and we still struggle with figuring out who we are and what we want.
 
And all these books teach that, the way through the pain, back to integration and wholeness, is to slow down long enough to notice the pain and allow yourself to feel it. 
 

“All experiences (according to Buddhist philosophy, among others) are in service of our greater awakening.” 
Push Off From Here


One tool that I’ve found very helpful to start to understand what, exactly, I am feeling and why I am feeling it comes from the book Nonviolent Communication.  In this style of communicating (also called compassionate communication), you try to communicate in such a way that conveys what you are feeling and what need of yours is not being met.  Here’s the format:
 
I feel ________________ because I need _____________________.
 
Doing this on a fly in a conversation can be super challenging, but just doing this exercise as a post-mortem can be SO enlightening.  For example, let’s say I text my brother about getting together this weekend, and he doesn’t text me back. Let’s say that I ignore all of my training and do what I normally do – I feel hurt and resolve to NEVER TEXT MY BROTHER AGAIN, which means he notices I’m ghosting him, but he no idea why. Well, it’s not a total loss!  Even though I didn’t react the way I wish I would have, I can reflect on this experience and learn from it.  In this circumstance, what was I feeling?  Disappointed, irritated, hurt.  What need of mine was not being met that made me feel this way?  Oooh – that’s a hard one.  It is my need for connection, for love, for consideration, to be seen and acknowledged? 
 
Through this process I start to learn what it is that I am feeling and what it is that I really need.  Instead of running from the pain, I turn and face it with curiosity and see what that feeling is trying to teach me about who I am and what I really want.  I start to recognize when I feel that sensation of being hurt or annoyed, and I can pause. I can choose to tell myself the story that my brother is inconsiderate and doesn’t really care about me (which I know is untrue).  Or I can tell myself the story that, “Ahhh.  It’s really important for me to be seen and acknowledged by the people I love, and if they understand that (by me actually TELLING them), then it’s more likely they will respond to me when I reach out.”  This could sound something like, “I feel hurt when I send a text and don’t hear anything back because it’s really important to me to feel that I am loved and cared for.”  I still have a LOT of work to do to actually express myself this way, but I find that writing all this out really helps me understand myself better.
 
If you are struggling to discover your authentic self, you might find this practice helpful!  This is one of many tools that can help you find your way back to yourself.  If you would like support on this journey, please reach out to me to see how coaching or bodywork can help!  You can book a free 15-minute consultation here.
 
Space to be Human Updates
 
Work with me: If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and clenched, and you would like to transmute that energy so that you can feel more alive, engaged with life, and connected to the Here & Now, you can book a session with me here.  
 
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Awakening, Coaching, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Paleo, Trauma, Yoga

But…WHY???

“Why do you do what you do?  What is the PURPOSE?  What’s YOUR purpose?  What’s your cause?  What do you believe?”
 
I first encountered these questions a couple of years ago when a dear friend of mine sent me the book, “Find Your Why” by Simon Sinek.  In true Heather fashion, I immediately read the book and used it to help OTHER people find THEIR WHYs, completely bypassing the exercise for myself. 
 
But then the need to “find your why” kept popping up in random podcasts, books, conversations.  I resisted the prompting – who has the time and energy to do such heavy, difficult thought work??  Can’t someone just TELL me why I’m here, so I can take that knowledge and run with it??  Wouldn’t that be more efficient??
 
The Universe kept insisting that I take the time and figure this out for myself, recently presenting me with these questions yet again as part of a group coaching program I’m doing.  We were instructed to answer these questions as it relates to WHY we do bodywork, and the answer “to help people feel better” was not allowed, dammit.
 
I finally sat down, got out an orange Papermate Flair (doing hard things is easier with a pretty pen) and went to work.  And what I came up with really did give me some clarity and validation that, not only do I HAVE a purpose, but I am following it!
 
Here is what I wrote down:
 
I believe that we have an innate capacity to heal, given the right conditions. I believe our bodies are amazing and should be tended lovingly.  I do this work because I want to bring more hope and joy into this world, reduce suffering, help people realize their potential, and up-level humanity, one person at a time. 
 
I often struggle with the belief that I am doing “it” wrong – “it” meaning almost everything – life, relationships, learning, thinking, being, doing.  This limiting belief that “I am doing it wrong” rears its head incessantly in regard to my career.  I am interested in many things, and so I pursue many things, but I feel as if I SHOULD focus on one thing and get really good at it.  But this exercise helped solidify that, while I am pursuing a lot of different areas of interest, they are all driven by the same WHY – a belief in the magic and wonder of the human being and a desire to unleash that magic to make the world a better place.  All these classes and books and podcasts are all connected by that golden thread to my WHY.
 
I also had a light bulb moment and realized that my “origin story” weaves perfectly into this WHY as well.  I decided to share it with you, as this is a question that I get from clients ALL the time – “How did you get into this work?”
 
Let me tell you. 😊
 
My journey into the healing arts began about 13 years ago.  I was suffering from nasty anxiety.  I was constantly afraid of passing out and felt as if my grip on reality was very tenuous.  I dreaded getting stopped at a stop light, especially if I was the first car in line. I would roll down my window, turn up the AC full blast on my face and pray that I would remain conscious. At the grocery store, if I had to wait in line, I would pop mint gum in my mouth and fan my face in an attempt to stay upright and cogent.  When I had to attend a meeting at work, I would try to sit as close to the door as possible, and I always had water with me, so I could take a sip when I felt a little spinny.  Sometimes even on walks I would start to feel myself lilt, and my heart would beat faster and faster as I tried to hurry home before something bad happened.  Even sometimes after eating, I would feel faint. 
 
I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, a bit overweight, inflamed, and freaked out.  What was wrong with me??
 
I started to seek treatment and found a chiropractor and acupuncturist who helped me start to feel better.  And then I ran across an article about the primal lifestyle that grabbed my attention with its common sense approach to how to live.  I bought the book mentioned in the article, The 21 Day Total Body Transformation, and realized, this is something I could actually do!  I decided to follow the official 21-day plan, which included things like eating whole foods, cutting out sugar, gluten, and processed foods, eating healthy oils, prioritizing sleep hygiene, walking outside, doing bodyweight exercises, etc.  Within 2 weeks of starting the plan, my anxiety was nearly gone!!  My allergies were practically non-existent. I had energy ALL DAY LONG.  I felt GOOD.
 
And my mind was blown.  I experienced all these benefits, just from changing how I ate, how I moved, how I slept.  It opened my eyes to our innate capacity to heal and thrive if we give ourselves the right conditions.  
 
I dived into learning all I could about those “right conditions,” which included training as a yoga teacher, certifying as a Roll Model Method Practitioner® & Yoga Tune Up® Teacher, and attending an 18-month intensive training program in Florida to learn neurosomatic therapy.  I started to learn about trauma and its effects on the mind, body, and spirit, so I began training in the Somatic Experiencing program.  I received CranioSacral therapy and was in love with how calm and at ease it made me feel, so I started training in that as well.  I met a mentor who uses CranioSacral and visceral manipulation to help people who have been pretty much branded as “unhelpable” by the mainstream medical system, which got me even more curious about the benefits of organ work, so I dived into that this past August.  So many different modalities and styles, and they all had the same underlying theme of, “let’s help the body and mind get into a position/condition where its self-healing capacities can be unleashed, so people can start to feel vibrant again.”
 
That brings us to today, 10/1/2023.  That’s my story. 
 
What’s your story?  Why do you do what you do?  What do you believe? Taking some time and space to sit with these questions and contemplate them can bring much-needed clarity to our urgent lives and help ensure we are living in a way that is in alignment with what we really care about.  If you need a compassionate witness help you slow down long enough to consider these questions, I am here for you!  A CranioSacral Therapy (CST) session can be an excellent way to start to slowly apply that brake pedal.  If you would like explore CST, you can book a bodywork session with me here.  I am also offering coaching services on a limited basis, and if that idea tickles your fancy, please reply to this email.
 
HAPPY SUNDAY, MY FRIENDS!  I hope you have a moment today that feels like this:

 
P.S.  I was really struggling with what to write today.  I sat for several minutes with my head in my palms trying to force something to come out.  I had a little voice encouraging me to take a break and go for a walk.  Which I, of course ignored (I MUST POWER THROUGH).  When I was done writing, I went for a walk and was flooded with all sorts of good ideas, one of which is the following: 
 
When I think, “I’m not doing it right,” I can reframe it to, “I’m doing it.”  OMG. SUCH a difference.
 
So what’s the lesson in this long post script?  Listen to the inner voice!  Don’t force things!  Sense the spaces through which you can flow with little effort (thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn for the last one), and go for the effing walk!!
 
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