Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

Mind Over Tension (aka Jedi Mind Tricks)

Hiya.  Care to get a little curious?

Where are you breathing right now?  Is the air coming in through your nose or your mouth?  What is the temperature of the air?  Where do you feel your body move with the inhale and the exhale – your shoulders, your ribcage, your shoulders, all of the above?  What happens if you just notice?  Just notice the breath coming in and going out, like ocean waves sliding up a sandy beach and slowly retreating back to the deep.  Perhaps you would like to start to slow down the breath, taking looooong sloooow sips of air.  What do you notice next?

I’m curious about your eyes. What happens if you take a pause from reading this, look up, and let your eyes gaze on something in the far distance – the furthest thing you can see without straining.  How does that feel?  If you invite your eyes to take in more of your surroundings – start to notice what arrives at your eyes from the periphery, how does that change your experience of your eyes?

And what about that belly?  I invite you to take a moment and just notice if you are holding your breath, holding your belly, bracing.  What shifts within you, if you allow yourself to soften in this area, maybe even inviting the breath to sink down low and expand the low belly?  How does that feel?

And the hands, and the fingers – are they clenched tightly around your phone as you read this, are they resting in little tight fists on your lap?  What if you tried to hold your phone with just the SKIN of your fingertips?  What would it be like to slowly uncurl each little bone of each long elegant finger and allow the fingers and palms to rest with ease on your thighs?  What is it like if you imagine bringing more space into the INSIDE of your hand, like inside the fingers and inside the palms?

How do you feel after a few minutes of exploring your inner world?  Did you notice a shift in your overall tension?  Your mood?  The pace of the hamster wheel of thought-generation?

We’ve been taught, since the time of Rene Descartes, that “I think, therefore I am,” insinuating that there is some sort of separateness between the mind and the rest of us.  We now know due to reams of research that the mind and body are not separate.  As human beings, we are a mindbody.  Our thoughts effect changes in our body, and our body effects changes in our thoughts.  Perhaps you noticed how your thoughts helped your body feel more calm, ease, and expansiveness?

Our minds have a documented “negativity bias” which means we are always scanning for the bad, what could go wrong, how things could fail.  This has kept humans alive so far, so it’s a vital predisposition, but it can make for a shitty lived experience!  We can consciously work with this negativity bias, by inviting in the opposite thought – give equal airtime (or maybe even MORE –  research recommends a 3:1 ratio) to scanning for the good, thinking about what could go right, how things could succeed.

How are your thoughts contributing to your tension?  How could they contribute to more ease, flow, and space instead?  Just some food for thought on this day of Rebirth.  Maybe we could give birth to a mindset that helps us find more Space to be Human.

Space to be Human Lab (where we invite in an attitude of exploration, experimentation, and curiosity)

  • NEW FACE CRADLE: The reviews are in “It’s so soft!”  “It’s so comfortable!” “My face isn’t smushed.”  Yay for the new cradle!
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I am taking a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP) to learn how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide treatment.  If this piques your interest, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

And with that we are heading off to Armored Gardens for some lunchy poo.  Also, if you don’t currently get the Tap On It texts, I highly recommend it.  This week we got a coupon for BOGO draft beers at Armored Gardens.  I mean, I don’t drink beer (Hellllooo bloated belly), but that’s a really good coupon. J

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Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

Confessions of a Wounded Healer

Pain is weird.  In a nutshell, that is about all that Science and Experience (and my personal N=1 experiment) knows for sure.  This becomes especially true when you get into chronic pain territory, meaning if you have persistent pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months.

And guess what.

I have chronic pain.

I’ve had persistent low back pain for ages.  I remember going to physical therapy for it when I was working at HNI in Muscatine.  Let’s see, that was…15 years ago.  So, yup, I am in chronic pain territory.

It’s embarrassing to admit that, as a massage therapist, yoga teacher, and studier of the human mindbody and condition, I have been unable to resolve my own main complaint.  I’ve seen PTs, chiropractors, the founder of neurosomatic therapy, myofascial release specialists, acupuncturists, functional medicine docs, yoga therapists, breath specialists.  You name it; I’ve likely tried it. 

Does it help?  Sometimes and for a little bit, yet the pain returns.  And I’m starting to get a sense of why.

  1. I don’t do my homework.  I don’t do my breath exercises, stretches, etc. consistently.
  2. While I KNOW that humans are multidimensional beings, made of physical bodies, but also energy bodies, mental bodies, and spiritual bodies, I still revert to a default belief in a biomechanical model and reliance on Someone Else needs to fix this.  This is amusing to my Higher Self, as my main driver/motivator in doing the work I do is because I want to help others realize their potential to heal themselves via a wholistic mindbody approach.  Oh – THE IRONY!!

And so, as I slowly start to examine my Shadow Self (the side of myself that I don’t REALLY want to look at too closely), I am beginning to realize the strong connection between the low grade low back pain that’s been my constant companion these 15 years, and my habit of living life at Speed.  This speedy living manifests in clenching – tightening up my shoulders, holding my breath while executing tasks, clenching my butt, and not processing feelings/emotions as they arise (I don’t have time to deal with this now; I’ll do it “later” when I “have more time”  and when it’s “more convenient” (meaning never)). 

It’s become evident to me that the reason none of these external therapies have worked is because my habits of daily life (daily clenching), immediately facilitate tension in my back.

I know the work I need to do to feel better.  I need to FEEL BETTER.  Meaning, I need to take the time to notice what is arising within my inner domain, turn toward it with openness, notice exactly WHERE I am feeling it and WHAT it feels like.  It looks something like this:

I feel a sensation like a ball in my throat.  As I watch it, it starts to shift up into the back of mouth and out toward my ears. I say “hi” to it and let it do what it wants to do.  I take a moment to breathe long, slow breaths and the feeling and I just hang out together for a bit.  Sometimes it stays, sometimes it moves on.

I think the secret to unwinding the tension in my back is in unwinding the tension in my emotional and mental layers.  I realize that can sound a bit woo-woo, but there is actual proof that this is true.  The biopsychosocial model of pain indicates that ALL of the following can contribute to our pain experience:

Injuries.  Hormones.  Metabolism.  Neurochemistry.  Nutrition.  Sleep.  Circulation.  Breathing.  Immune functioning.  Personality.  Behaviors.  Age.  Gender.  Race/ethnicity.  Socioeconomic status.  Social network/Relationships.  Life stress.  Treatment satisfaction.  Readiness to return to activities of daily life. Spiritual practices.  Meaning and purpose.  Autonomy/Self-management. Beliefs.  Thoughts.  Our ability to feel our inner state (interoception).

HOW does one go about doing the work of examining and processing their emotional and mental layers?   I work with a life coach, and I’ve also worked with mental health therapists in the past.  I also journal daily and get the stories out of my head and on to paper where they are more obvious and manageable. I meditate to build my “attention muscle,” so that I can get less triggered by my own thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about the different factors that could be contributing to YOUR pain, we can chat about that in your next session. Here are also a couple of interesting and helpful resources.

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW FACE CRADLE: OMG.  I AM SO EXCITED!! Today my new cradle from Oakworks arrived.  It is a specially designed face cradle to reduce pressure on the eyes and sinuses and reduce congestion when you are face down.
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I am taking a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP) to learn how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide treatment.  If this piques your interest, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

And with that, I’m signing off.  IT IS FINALLY SUNNY!!!!!!!  I hope you can spend some time in the sun and warmth today.

See ya next week, My Peeps!

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Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

The Golden Shadow; The Good We Hide from Ourselves

Last week we talked about getting to know your shadow.  The term “shadow” just inherently has a negative connotation to it.  Interesting aside – Huehue got spooked by my shadow this morning when I took him out at 4:15AM.  He kept looking intently under our neighbor’s deck, which was starting to really unnerve me, when I realized he was staring at the shadow of me, cast from our other neighbor’s floodlight.  My shadow IS pretty threatening in the wee hours of the morning.

ANYWAY – back to what I was saying, we default to thinking that our shadow is negative or bad. BUT, the shadow is composed of all the parts of ourselves that we didn’t feel safe to display.  And that means that the shadow also contains parts of us that are good and interesting and unique and special. Our “golden shadow” is made up of our gifts and talents and abilities that we suppressed because we were given the impression that they were NOT ok.  Maybe it was our exuberance and liveliness (“Can’t you just be quiet?/Why can’t you NOT set the shed on fire?/Why can’t you be behave?”).  Maybe it was our imagination (“Stop daydreaming.  You’re old enough to get your head down out of the clouds.  Start keeping both feet on the ground.”  Never Ending Story).  Maybe it was our unique perspective on life and God and why we are here (“We look to the Elders/Authorities to tell us what is right and good.  Who do you think you are to question that?  Thinking like that is dangerous”).  Many “positive” qualities can be dismissed, minimized, and rejected, depending on the circumstance we are in and the influential people in our lives.

Sure, our shadow self contains the negative traits we want to hide and ignore, but it also contains the positive traits that we find equally difficult to acknowledge and own.  This “golden shadow” needs to be met and integrated in order for us to return to wholeness.

“We see in others those positive traits which are our very own, but which, for whatever reason, we refuse to allow entry into our consciousness and are indiscernible to us.”  Meeting our Shadow.

Personally, I find it a lot easier to acknowledge and own up to my negative shadow traits than to boldly embrace my golden shadow.  Thinking negatively of oneself is oh so comfortable but oh so ruinous!!

Meeting our Shadow suggests listing the qualities we deeply admire in others and noticing what we think and feel when we use those qualities to describe ourselves.

I deeply admire:

  • People who stay very calm no matter what is blowing up around them.
  • People who try new things and are adventurous.
  • People who are experts in the field of mindbody flourishing.
  • People who don’t gossip about others.
  • People who are authentically generous and not self-centered.
  • People who write beautiful stuff.
  • People who put their energy into making a difference in the world.

And, yep, I feel so much resistance when I think about me emanating those qualities.  As my friend Angela says, “How fascinating!!”

How about you?  Is it easier to acknowledge and accept your dark shadow or your golden shadow?

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am now at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232. The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool. 
  • NEW LTAP ASSESSMENTS:     I have started a 6 week online class on Locator Test Assessment Protocols (LTAP).  This class is based on osteopathic and the Barral Institute techniques that teach the therapist how to listen to the body and use its wisdom to guide the therapist on where to start treatment. 

I am excited about this class as it will help me tune in to what your body really needs and use all the fun, interesting, “weird” stuff like visceral massage, cranial mobilizations, and neural resets to address pain in all areas of the body.  It sounds crazy, but sometimes just doing a breath technique can be the key to getting rid of that pain in your big toe!  According to my teacher, starting treatment in the right place is crucial to an effective treatment.

If this piques your interest, and you would like to embrace curiosity with me, let me know.  During April I’ll add 10 minutes to your session at no charge, and we’ll see what the Assessments tell us about what your body needs.

Happy Sunny Sunday!  I hope you can rest and recover.  Here is some inspiration from the Huehue-Monster.

With love,

Hlo

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Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

Meeting Your Shadow

It’s sunny and warm and summery out today, so in true yogic spirit, I’m bringing in a bit of the opposite – The Shadow.

I first was introduced to The Shadow when I took Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind course last year. Betsy is a psychologist and a yoga teacher, so she brings a really interesting, enlightening integrated perspective that combines yoga philosophy, scientific research, and psychology.  According to her notes, the “Human Self” is made up of the Ego, the Shadow Self, the Inner Child, and the Pain Body.  The Shadow Self is made up of parts we’ve repressed – unconscious parts of ourselves that we see as undesirable.  This is the Mr. Hyde to our Dr. Jekyll.

The Shadow Self seems like something we would want to avoid and push away, but turning the light of our attention to it is actually the key to elevating consciousness.  When we don’t look at what is contained in our shadow, we are not wise to its influence.  We unconsciously project what is hidden in the Shadow onto the people and circumstances around us – blaming others, blaming circumstances, blaming The Other for everything that is wrong in our lives, when in actuality, our perception is inaccurate due to the veil of the shadow through which we are unknowingly peering.

Creating a right relationship with our shadow self not only helps us gain more insight into “Who Am I, really?” but it also can “lead us back to our buried potentials.”  Through “shadow-work” we can develop more self-acceptance, as we are accepting who we really are, not just who we want to be or who we want others to think we are.  “…Only by making friends with the shadow do we gain the friends of the self.”  (Quotes are taken from Meeting the Shadow:  The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature)

Meeting the Shadow suggests an interesting exercise to help you start to get to know your shadow: describe a personality type that you find unbearable and impossible to get along with.    This produces a list of your own repressed qualities.  I did this exercise this morning, and it was quite uncomfortable.  Here is a snippet of my list of qualities I find really annoying:

  • She is confrontational.
  • She is unpredictable, unreliable.  You never know where you stand.
  • She willfully misunderstands.
  • She lacks confidence and needs constant validation.
  • She is sneaky.
  • She talks too much and should listen more.
  • She is a know-it-all.
  • She wants to be care of.

I then took this list and, and pulling a page from Byron Katie’s The Work, substitute “I” for “She.”

  • I need constant validation.
  • I willfully misunderstand
  • I am sneaky.
  • I lack confidence and need constant reassurance
  • I talk too much and should listen more.
  • I am unreliable.
  • I want to be taken care of.

Ugh.  Some of that hit very close to home.  I can see why I find these qualities so annoying, as these are things I least like about myself; the things I have tried to hide and ignore and pretend are not there.  But by bringing these qualities to light and examining them with compassionate acceptance, I can start to integrate my Shadow Self.  “Whatever has been repressed holds a tremendous amount of energy, with great positive potential.” (Meeting the Shadow).  Also, realizing that other people annoy me because of qualities I myself hold helps me be a little bit more patient and kind with them.

What personality type really annoys and frustrates you?  Is there some gold in there for you?

The need to examine The Shadow is a theme that keeps reappearing in a variety of different areas lately (books, Archetype cards, Instagram, podcasts), which usually means it’s a current that’s flowing through others’ minds as well, so I figured I would share this exercise, since I found it uncomfortably insightful.

Also, Huehue, with the advent of the full moon this week and his 9th week of life on this planet, has become the doggo version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He is all sweetness and puppy kisses one moment, and then BAM – all shark teeth and barking zoomies the next.  It’s super bonkers.

To offset this slightly darker-than-usual post, I am going to share an amazing gluten-free cookie recipe with you:  Coconut Flour CookiesThese cookies are BETTER than the gluttony ones, IMHO, and they are super easy to make. I was going to take a picture of them so that you can see how tasty they look, but they look (and ARE) so tasty, that I ate them before I took the picture.  They are SO GOOD.

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am now at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232. The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool.   

Thanks for reading my friends!  If you discover any interesting insights as you do your own shadow work, and you care to share, I care to listen (I DO need to listen more!).

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

On Letting Things be Easy

Do you have anything in your life that you make harder than it has to be?

  • Do you hold your breath while responding to emails?
  • Do you walk super fast from your computer to the bathroom, pee really fast while thinking about the meeting you have coming up, and then speed walk back to your computer to check on the IMs and the emails you missed while you rushed to the bathroom?
  • When it’s cold outside, and you have a jacket and gloves and hat on, do you still hunch your shoulders and clench in an effort to ward of the briskness?
  • When you watch TV, do you also look at your phone, while you are also eating?
  • Do you often lament about how busy life is, and then make more plans, sign up for more classes, buy more books to read some day?

Hopefully this description of my neuroticism doesn’t scare you away.  I share this because I think it may resonate.  I’m not the only Rusher who likes to add some layers of unnecessary tension, must-get-it-done-as-quickly-as-possible-ness, and fabricated urgency to my day.

You know, when you hear the same message from multiple different sources, all within a short time frame, it’s usually a pretty good idea to listen.  The Universe REALLY wants you to take note.

A message that keeps bubbling up from the ether loud and clear is:

Let

It

Be

Easy

This first came up during my Somatic Experiencing training in early February, when our instructor said, “Trauma physiology means people are working really hard.  How do we take off some of that demand?  Consider the possibility of doing less.  Instead of working hard, trust that the information you need will find its way to you.  Let the sights, sounds, smells COME to you.  Allow yourself to receive.  You don’t have to work so hard to learn.”

What??  It doesn’t HAVE to be hard??

And then my coach, week after week, points out how, while I complain about things being hard, I actually set up situations to BE hard.  Being tense, working hard, and striving is my comfort discomfort zone.  She invites me to consider, “How can this be easy?”

  • Can I remember to sit back in my chair and breathe while I respond to emails?
  • Can I take 10 minutes out of my day to just sit and eat, without doing anything else?
  • Can I enjoy the walk from the office to the bathroom, enjoy the sensations of moving my body, enjoy the comfort of being in my home?
  • Can I do LESS instead of more and enjoy the LESS more?

This recommendation to find Ease was also mentioned by the Keynote speaker at the QC YogaCon on Friday night.  During the panel discussion he was asked if had a recommendation for the students for the weekend.  He summed it up in one word, “Ease.”  How can you invite ease into your learning, your practice, your presence with others?

How could you Make It Easier?  How would your life change if you invited in more ease, allowed yourself to receive, and unclenched just a little bit?

Space to be Human Updates

  • NEW LOCATION: I am still at Davenport Acupuncture for now, but starting 3/21/22 (HAPPY SPRING!!), I will be located at 2805 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA, Office 232!  The building is located at the corner of Eastern & 29th, to the east of the Annie Wittenmeyer pool. 

Now it’s time for some ease (I’m reading Pride & Prejudice for about the 80th time) and sleep.  Hope you have a beautiful day!

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Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Yoga

On Bliss and Ecstasy

Have you ever seen the TV show Firefly?  I may have mentioned this in other posts, but it’s my most favoritist TV show.  The writing is gorgeous, the characters are nuanced, faulty, and real.  The setting (a space western J) lends itself well to investigating lots of salient topics.   It’s a story about a rag tag bunch of humans who, via a beautiful concerto of the Universe, end up together on Serenity, a smuggling ship, flying around the galaxy, doing odd jobs in order to survive and live how they want to live – free.  I say all this to introduce you to the episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds” from which this snippet of dialogue was taken:

Saffron: Do you know the myth of Earth-That-Was?
Wash
: Not so much.
Saffron
: That when she was born, she had no sky, and was open, inviting. And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her…
Wash
: Huh.
Saffron
: …making the oceans boil with sensation. And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky.
Wash
: Whoa. Good myth.

Can you imagine “boiling” with sensation?  What is your relationship with sensation?  When I first watched this episode, this interchange made me feel the sensation of uncomfortable.  Experiencing sensation – hmm – who has time or capacity for that??  Who KNOWS how to do that?  And SHOULD we do that?  Or should we just rely on our juicy brains, plugged into computers and the internet and our phones to live our digital, non-sensual lives?

Well, it turns out that feeling sensation, feeling feelings, is actually a pretty crucial part of being human.  Feelings/emotions are what motivate us to take action, and our actions are what lead to the results we have in life.  I think I was first introduced to this concept with clarity when I started listening to The Life Coach School podcast.  The creator of that podcast, Brooke Castillo, teaches “The Self Coaching Model” which basically states that everything in life can be broken down into 5 categories:

Circumstances – the neutral fact

Thoughts – what we think about that fact (what we make it mean)

Feelings – how those thoughts make us feel

Actions – what we do when we feel that way

Results – what happens due to the actions we take

Well, come to find out, Brooke did not invent this (not that she claims that she invented it).  In fact, the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu text written between 5th – 2nd century BCE, talks about how thoughts, when fed and repeated and nurtured, become desires, then habits, then ways of living.  In order to reach enlightenment, humans need to train their minds to be alike in pleasure and pain, which to me means we need to be able to process emotion – not resist it, not get consumed by it, just experience it all.

When we resist feeling something because it’s uncomfortable to feel it, it constrains our behavior.  We avoid taking action in order to avoid feeling some sort of way.  And while we may think we are just resisting feeling the ugly negative stuff, what seems to happen is that when we can’t feel the tough emotions – the shame and grief, we lose capacity to experience emotions on the other end of the spectrum – the bliss and ecstasy.  It leaves us feeling a bit dull and monochromatic.

I’ve heard from a few different teachers that emotions only last 90 seconds if we ALLOW them to be there.  If we take a moment, pause, and sit down and watch our inner state with an intention of curiosity, acceptance, allowance, then instead of being tamped down and ignored, the emotion and the energy associated with it can pass on through. 

This is a practice I have been working with, because avoiding feeling things is preventing me from doing what I want to do with this life – which is to live it fully and not be so fearful and overly worried all the time!

I offer to a you a few ideas for processing your emotions, in case you too struggle with this.

  1. When I reach for my phone instinctively, I try to pause and notice what I am feeling, or more pointedly, what I am trying NOT to feel by looking at my phone?  For you this could be: reaching for a cookie, or checking email, or even going for a run – there are lots of ways we choose to numb out and not feel.
  2. If I am in a time and place where I can do it, I will set the timer on my phone and take a breather, and just sit and watch what is going on inside.  Where do I feel the sensation?  Does it move anywhere as I look at it?  Does it have a shape?  Does it want to be touched?
  3. I work on this stuff with professionals.  Sometimes I just find it too hard to slow MYSELF down and notice what I’m feeling.  But if I have another human being with me, reminding me to slow down, to take the time to notice, to be there for me if I need help, then I’m more apt to wander into that territory.  I’ve done this work with my business coach (because – oh man – being scared of feeling failure, embarrassment, and rejection is a GREAT way to never get your business off the ground), my therapist, and a few Somatic Experiencing Practitioners.

If you want to explore what it’s like to have someone hold space for you while you notice what is going on in your nervous system, I am offering embodiment coaching sessions.  I offer 30 minute Zoom sessions which consist mostly of guided meditation and conversation where I help you stay present with your sensations.  We start by exploring what feels pleasant in your body, and then we can (depending on your comfort level), start to explore something that feels a bit more challenging just a LITTLE bit.  Then we go back to the pleasant sensation.  I also offer 60-minute in-person sessions which would be customized to you. They could include meditation, self-massage, movement – all practices designed to help you learn the language of sensation in your body and to help you slow down and notice what’s going on in there.  I’ve found that being able to tune in to the subtle messages from my body helps me take better care of myself – I can tell when I need a break, when I need some water, when I need to pee!  I can tell when a decision FEELS right or wrong.  I can tell when I’m starting to get amped up.  It’s a practice, and it takes time and patience, but being able to tune in to the wisdom of the body is critically important to living a life aligned with who you really are!  Here is a link to book with me if this idea floats your boat.

If you are interested in diving in to this topic a bit more, here are some resources for you:

  • The Life Coach School Podcast – Success and Your Feelings – I’ve listened to this one 3 times because it reminds me that while this is hard work, it’s worth it. 
  • I find it SUPER hard to cry, which is a way our body processes emotions.  I watched “The Notebook” but to no avail.  I listened to this guided meditation, and it brought up so many memories of our pooch, Lucent, who passed away several years ago.  It helped me let go of some stuff I’m been holding in for 6-7 years.
  • Expanding your sensation vocabulary can be difficult – you are literally learning a new language!!  Here are some words that might open up new awareness for you:  moving up, constricted, buzzing, opening, warmth, tension, lightness, relaxing, tingling, itching, burning, tightness, achy, frozen, rolling, airy, full, furry, sharp, shimmering, blocked, gurgling, hard, heavy, silky, icy, spacious, clammy, sticky, congested, loose, cool, tender, throbbing, energized, expanding, radiating, light.  Did you know your body could feel al that?

I know I’ve talked about Feeling Feelings before, but I think it’s super important and super difficult to do, so I wanted to share a bit more about it.

Space to be Human Updates

  • LOCATION: I am still at Davenport Acupuncture for now, but keep your eyes peeled for a NEW LOCATION announcement coming soon. 
  • Did you know you can find me on Instagram @space2bhuman?  I’m going to be posting some “tiny little action steps” in March – little things you can do to improve your wellbeing.

Well, I better sign off.  We need to go spend a small fortune at Theisens in order to get ready for Huehue’s imminent arrival!  Hope you have a sensational Sunday!

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Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

On The Hardness of Going Soft

Tim and I took a perfectly timed trip to Florida over Christmas break. We left at 5AM on Christmas day and just positively SAILED down to Destin, FL.  We were there in 15 hours, even with pee and fuel breaks.  There was NO traffic, and the time passed swiftly due to some fascinating podcasts and the audio version of Wheel of Time: Eye of the World.  We returned home on Thursday, right before Davenport got buried in about 6 inches of fluffy white stuff that was most definitely not sand.  On our way back north, we saw so many instances of cars at a standstill going south.  Sometimes it really pays to go against the grain!  😛

We had 4 full days down in Florida.  Our hotel was right on the beach, so our days consisted of waking up (without an alarm), partaking of the free hotel breakfast (the Fairfield Inn hot breakfast is really not bad!  They actually had protein options instead of just bagels, oatmeal and sugary yogurts), grabbing our gear, and heading to the beach.  We sat on the beach, read, watched the waves, actually got into the water a VERY little bit, headed to town for lunch, came back to the beach for more reading, watching, wading, then walked or drove to supper, and then tried to watch TV in the hotel (SO MANY COMMERCIALS), and then went to sleep.

It was so eye-opening how HARD it was to actually let ourselves relax though. 

Should we “make the most” of being there and DO more stuff – go stand-up paddle boarding, go hiking, check out museums, visit Seaside (the town where Truman Show was filmed), find all the best restaurants?? 

We decided that outside the door of our hotel was a gorgeous ocean with soft white, squeaky sand dissolved from quartz ages ago.  That was enough to appreciate for 4 days.

Ft. Walton Beach, Florida

While at the beach I read a really amazing book, Healing Ourselves – Biofield Science and the Future of Health.  The whole book is about our ability to heal ourselves and others via energy practices.  At face value that may sound very woo woo, but there are dozens of studies that show the healing power of our thoughts, attention, and intention (what do you think causes the placebo effect!).  Two things are very clear from the research the author relays in the book:

  1. We are all interconnected.
  2. We have so much more power to heal ourselves that when have been taught. 

I plan to dive in to the practices outlined in the book and will share with you the ones that I love.  In the meantime, to explore the concept of self-healing for yourself, you could start simply by taking a moment to notice your feet on the ground, soften up those soles, think about plugging your feet into the earth like you would plug your charger into a wall socket.  Notice the energy in your feet, calves, and upper legs.  Take a moment and ask yourself, “Who do I want to be today?”  Set that intention for the day (I prefer to write it down to make it more concrete and visible), revisit it often, and see what changes in your experience of your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual self/layer/body.

Space to be Human Updates

  • If you were unable to make it to my Introduction to Meditation class, but you are interested in the topic, you’re in luck!  I recorded the class, and you can watch it here at your leisure.  Feedback and suggestions are much appreciated!  If this class piques your interest, and you would like help in developing a meditation practice, you can book a session with me here.
  • Did you know that the Quad Cities is hosting its very own yoga festival?? The QC YogaCon will be held March 4-6, and guess who is teaching!  Me!  I am teaching a Yoga Tune Up® class (Total Tension Tunedown) on 4/5 at 4PM.  You can find more details here.

That’s all for today, my friends!  Happy 2nd day of 2022!  Please reach out to me at heather@spaceotbehuman.life or book a session with me here if you would like to feel better in your body.

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Awakening, Health & Fitness, Yoga

On #Winning & Secret Desires

We are at the start of new year, which means it’s time to run a Lessons Learned to close out this project that is Life in 2021.  What went well?  What could we do better next time? 

What Went Well

Why should we review “What Went Well?” Oh for SO many reasons!

  • Our brains are wired for negativity, which is a helpful yet annoying survival mechanism.  We downplay our successes, and we latch on to our failures.  Does any of the following sound familiar?
    • We get our annual review.  The boss says, “You did an amazing job this year.  We love you.  You’re awesome.  Next year we would like you to show more leadership on your projects.”  What runs through your brain?  “Shit.  I’m a loser.  I should have been more assertive.  I should have worked more.  I better start looking for a different job…”  So much good feedback, yet we glom on to that little bit of feedback and use it as proof that we are a failure.
    • Here’s a personal example.  A few weeks ago, I co-presented on the topic of Emotional Intelligence for Lead(h)er.  Public speaking is a big trigger of panic for me, but by using some calming techniques and mindset work, I was able to keep my voice from shaking, I logically went through the material, and my face did not freeze into any weird contortions.  But.  Then came the Q&A.  A question popped up that did not compute in my brain.  I stumbled through some answer that I’m not sure made any sense or that even remotely addressed the question.  So – great little presentation where I actually exhibited some poise and overcame something very scary for me  – but the rest of the night I had a pit in my stomach, and my mind kept recycling the core belief, “I suck.”  Fun times!
  • We need about a 3:1 ratio of positivity to negativity to offset the negativity bias.
  • Life moves fast, and we are usually focused ever on the future.  “What do I have to do tomorrow, next week, next month to move towards my goals?”  But, Baby, look at how far you’ve come!!  You’ve grown SO much, accomplished so many of your goals, Past You would look at Current You and be like, “Daaaaammmnnn – that’s me?!”  Take some time to relish this.

What are your Wins, your Successes, your Peaks for 2021?  Don’t be shy!  Write them out.  Send them to me or share them with a friend.  Get them down on paper and DOCUMENT THEM.  Brag!  Don’t let self-judgement hold you back you in this exercise.  When it pops up, say, “Thank you, Sir, for trying to keep me safe and small, but I don’t need you right now.”  And Write.

Here are a few of the things I accomplished in 2021 that make me proud:

  • My therapy practice almost tripled.
  • I worked with a psychologist and a life coach and did a lot of work on learning how to feel what I am feeling (instead of stuffing it down to deal with “later”) and how to question the stories on constant, speedy, reflexive repeat in my head.
  • I asked and was granted a decrease in my hours at the bank, enabling me to put more time into my therapy practice.  And I was able to deal with the, “Oh God, Oh God, how am I going to have enough money?!?!” fairly well.
  • I co-presented 2 Emotional Intelligence presentations, which made me super duper DUPER nervous.  One of the worst case scenarios actually did happen during the first presentation – the network at the presentation location was down, so none of the A/V equipment worked.  We printed out the slides as a fail-safe, only to scramble madly when the network came up minutes before the presentation was scheduled to begin.  But, BIG BREATH, it all ended up totally fine.
  • I put my money where my mouth was and hired a personal trainer, and I’m getting stronger. I overcame one of my most favorite thoughts, “I’ll do it later, when I feel like it.”

What could we do better next year?

I propose a new take on this.  Instead of thinking about things that went sideways and how we could keep them on track next time.  Let’s think about what we want for next year.  What do you desire for next year?  Better yet (and thanks to my coach, Kate Reuter for this question), what do you SECRETLY desire? No one else has to know besides you and your pen and your paper.  If anything was possible, what would you desire?   

Don’t be alarmed if you try this exercise only to find out you don’t know what you want.  You might know what you DON’T want (that one is a lot easier).   Ask yourself, if you DID know what you want, what would that be?  If you are an intuitive, empathic person, chances are you are used to having your feelers attuned to what everyone around you wants.  So when you ask yourself this question, you may just get a blank stare.  But trust me.  You do know what you want.  You just need to practice asking and listening.  Again, bring self-compassion, non-judgement, and a sense of massive curiosity to this.  THERE ARE NO WRONG ANSWERS!  If you do it wrong, you’re doing it perfectly.  😛

To give credit where credit is due, I’m borrowing, mixing, and integrating the work of so many people in this post.  Here are links to my main teachers, should you care to dive into this stuff more:

The Life Coach School Podcast – How To Be Proud of Yourself

Kate Reuter Coaching

Dr. Yoga Momma – Yoga for the Mind program

Lashaun Dale

I hope you can find some time to reflect on the year and appreciate how far you’ve come!

And that is it for today.  As always, if anything I wrote piques your interest, and you want to know more, holler at me.  And if you need help with reducing pain, improving your performance, or with feeling more at home in your body, you can book with me here

Have a fabulous day!

Awakening

Pay Attention to what you Pay Attention to.

Have you ever noticed that you when you’re shopping for a new car, suddenly you see your object of interest everywhere?  Overnight, everyone started driving Hyundai Konas somehow (to use a personal example).  You know why that is?  You see what you look for.

And WOW is that powerful.

One of my favorite movies is The Matrix.  Just the original one.  The sequels are horrible.  HORRIBLE!  But the original Matrix is a piece of art.  It shows you how constrained we are by our thoughts.  They literally, every day, every minute, create the world around us.

  • Do you believe that people are always out to get what they can out of you?  That will be your experience in the world. 
  • Think you don’t have the skills necessary to excel in that job you really, really want?  That’s right you don’t.
  • Think you’ve had this pain for years, so no matter what,  you will always have it.  Yes, that will also come true.

Research actually supports the concept of the power of our thoughts – placebos work because we think they work.  Our body processes food differently, depending if we think it’s good for us or not.  A combination of intention and attention can heal.  More details on the the power of of our thoughts can be found in an article I wrote here and in a podcast about psychoneuroimmunology here.

We have more power than we realize over the results we get in life.  Our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create our actions, and our actions create our results (and confirm our thoughts to be true).  And our thoughts ARE changeable.  Once we start to take the immense super power of Attention and focus it on the utter craziness our ego is spewing out non-stop, we can start to shift our Matrix.  Little by little, we can watch that voice, question its veracity, and try on some new thoughts that might create better feelings > actions > results.

Here are some fun questions to play with, when you encounter an exceptionally annoying thought such as, “I suck and will never be good at this.  Life is unfair.  This shouldn’t have happened.  He is so successful because he came from money.  I don’t have enough money/power/formal education to be “successful.”  She shouldn’t be so talkative/bold/lazy.” 

  • Is that true?  How do you know it’s true?  What if the opposite is true?
  • What are you making that mean?
  • Why?  Ask this one at least 5 times to get down through some layers.
  • Who would you be without that thought?
  • What feelings is that thought creating in your body?  Where do you feel those feelings?  What sensations are associated with that feeling.
  • How could I rewrite this story I am telling myself?

Once we start to glimpse a different reality, outside of the matrix we have created for ourselves, we start to realize how empowered we truly are to go after what is meaningful to us.

This is HARD and exhausting and uncomfortable work.  And it’s slow.  Decades of patterns of thought take time, loving and compassionate attention, and present moment awareness to start to unwind.  But, man, isn’t it worth it to be able to rewrite your story of what’s possible for you?

If this piques your interest, there are about a zillion resources I could share with you, but here are two that have really helped me on my journey:

The Life Coach School Podcast – search for podcasts on the Self Coaching Model

Loving What Is

As always, if anything I wrote piques your interest, and you want to know more, holler at me.  And if you need some help with reducing pain, improving your performance, or with feeling more at home in your body, you can book with me here

And that’s my quick note for today!  Hope you are having a fabulous day! 

Awakening, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Yoga

On Feeling those Feelings

My Emotions!

Happy Sunday!  It’s grey and windy here in Iowa today, but I’m digging it.  I’m tucked in at the kitchen table, watching the gusts blow the flame-colored leaves from our bushes, and appreciating that I now have time to write.  If it was nice outside, I would just HAVE to go for a walk or a bike ride or a car-ride to Crawford Brewery. 🙂

So, the big question is, what to write about??

Well, the thing that’s been on my mind most often lately, is Feelings.  I dig how the Universe will continually tap you on the shoulder with something that you just REALLY need to know or figure out. Like over and over and over again, in many different ways, via many different sources, until you finally listen.  The current in the Ether in my world is revolving around Feelings, and more specifically, the need to actually Feel those pesky things.

Why?  Why is it important to feel your feelings?

Oh, for SO many reasons!!  But here are 3 good ones: 
1.  When I don’t take time to notice what I am feeling, I miss vital information.  Emotions provide guidance on what you need more of and what you need less of. 
2. When I don’t take time to process my feelings, when I ignore them and push them away to be dealt with “later,” I add yet another layer of tension, another layer of armor.  Emotions are energy, and if that energy is not transmuted, it will get stuck and take up space in the body.
3. Finally, if I don’t learn to how process emotions, they scare me, and I avoid doing things that could cause me to feel that emotion.  The desire to not feel certain things creates false bumper rails, making my life and experience more and more narrow.  Life gets smaller, less colorful, less interesting.

Does that happen to you as well?  

What can we do about it?  How does one start to “feel” feelings, when one has never been taught how to do that?

Here is a practice that might help.  When you notice the impulse to grab your phone, grab something to eat, grab something to drink, take a breath and pause. Ask yourself, what am I feeling?  If you have the time and space to do so, set the timer on your phone for 2 minutes and sit and watch what that emotion looks like on the inside – Where do you feel it? Is it heavy or light? Does it have a color? How would you describe the texture?  Does it stay in the same place or does it move around?  Notice what happens when you turn towards the sensation with curiosity instead of turning your back on it with resistance.

When I practice this, sometimes the emotion stays with me, and sometimes I watch it move around and then leave.  And when that happens – wow – I feel more space inside.  One layer of the onion has dissolved!

This podcast really made me think even more deeply about the need to feel and process our emotions.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself:  What am I avoiding because I don’t want to experience emotional pain?  What emotions am I afraid of experiencing and who would I be/what would I do if I wasn’t afraid of experiencing these emotions?

As always, thank you for reading.  I hope you have a fabulous week.  Have some fun.  Find a safe space and feel some feelings.  Get outside.  Connect with someone for realsies – talk about Life, The Universe, and Everything.

And remember, if you want guidance with finding more space in your body and mind, I’m here for you.

Take care,

Heather