Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation

The Science of Self-Belief

Self-Efficacy.  What the heck does that mean?  Efficacy means “the power or to produce an effect.” So self-efficacy, is your belief in your power to effect something. 
 
Our belief in what we are and are not capable of doing is the greatest determinant of what we actually are and are not capable of doing!  Our BELIEF, mind you – this can be completely and utterly unrelated to FACT.  The FACT is, we may be super smart, super creative, super gifted.  But if our BELIEF is that we are a bit dim, we don’t have any original ideas, and there is nothing special about us – well, that’s the filter through which we see ourselves, and that’s the belief upon which we’ll make our choices.
 
For school I read a super interesting article on Social Cognitive Theory.  This theory of human functioning states that we as humans have agency (meaning we have power over our actions/response; we are not victims of our circumstances) and “what people think, believe, and feel affects how they behave.”  How we behave affects the results we get in life.  So, humans are “influential in determining their own destiny.”
 
Perhaps you know someone like this (or perhaps this someone is you): 
 
This person is special.  She is brilliant, funny, a natural problem-solver.  Anything broken, she can fix.  She’s a hard worker – someone who won’t give up just because the problem is a tricksy one.  She’s kind, considerate; someone who just naturally inspires respect. 
 
She is presented with a new opportunity, a project that is just outside of her comfort zone – a challenge.  She is afraid.  She thinks she’s underqualified.  She thinks she might fail.  She believes that someone else – someone smarter, someone with more credentials, someone with more experience – would be a better fit.
 
Yet you look at her and go, “OMG.  TAKE IT!!!  DO IT!!! You would be SO awesome at this!!”
 
But her reality, her filter, is that she cannot do it.  She doesn’t see what she’s capable of.  So she doesn’t accept the challenge and learn and grow as a result of working through it. She doesn’t increase her mastery.  She stays in the safe little box in which her self-image confines her.
 
Ugh!  This is all just based on her BELIEF, not FACT.
 
But the good news is, self-efficacy beliefs CAN CHANGE!  We can take on new challenges and improve our mastery.  We can watch others who are similar to us and notice what they are accomplishing and realize, “Hey! She is a lot like me, and she did it!  I could do it too!.”  Our self-efficacy can also improve if we are around supportive people who provide positive feedback on our performance (e.g. a coach).  We can also start to notice our moods and emotions and take steps to deal with stress in more effective ways and learn how to process negative emotional states, enabling us to no longer be completely derailed by stress, fear, and anxiety.
 
There is SO much more to dive into here, but I wanted to share this little intro because I think there is so much room for hope here.  1.  We are not victims; we have power to change our perceptions and therefore our life.  2.  We have the power to change our beliefs about who we are and our abilities.  It requires awareness, support, and willingness to get uncomfortable, but it’s possible!
 
Belief in my own abilities is something that I have struggled with my whole life, but, as I reviewed some of the questionnaires that help you evaluate your self-efficacy, I realized, “Holy Sh!t.  I’m getting better.  I’M CHANGING!!”  Here’s an article with some questions that might help you see where you fall on self-efficacy spectrum. 
 
What is your truth?  Do you believe you can change your behavior and your life by changing your belief about you?
 
Happy Sunday, my friends!  Hope you have a BOO-tiful Halloween (get it??)!
 
Looking for feedback:

  • I am looking for smart women who feel dumb when it comes to taking care of themselves to help me do some market research. I want to hear what you want and need, what you are struggling with, what you would be SO HAPPY to achieve if you were to work with a coach.  If you are interested in sharing your thoughts with me, you can book a 30 minute chat session here.

Space to be Human Lab

  • November is just around the corner, and it’s already filling up fast. You can book a session here.

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Awakening, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Productivity

Getting more bang for your Thinking Buck

The human brain is a funny thing.  In Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s Yoga for the Mind class, I learned something that massively shifted my perspective.  The human brain is like Teflon for the good stuff and Velcro for the bad stuff.  The good flows right on by, and the bad just sits there and festers.  This is a handy feature when the bad stuff can kill you, but in modern times, that “bad stuff” is often comprised of less deadly things such as your computer re-booting while you’re in the middle of crafting a nasty ol’ spreadsheet with lots of formulas and data that you have not yet saved, or getting (what you think) is a frustrated look from your boss in a meeting, or making a post on Instagram and getting only crickets in return. Yet, our mind fixates on those things, and we can quickly spin off into stories about how the world is crumbling and everyone and everything sucks, especially us.
 
So, what to do?
 
We must consciously focus on what is going well.  Recognize that our brains have this tendency to catastrophize, so intentionally pro-tastrophize or opportunitize or miracalize.  I cannot find an antonym to catastrophize, so I’m just making words up.  But you get the picture. 
 
Spend time thinking about what DID go right, what COULD go right, what IS going right in our day, in our body, in our life.  Our body is constantly releasing a slew of chemicals in response to our thoughts that changes the soup in which our cells live, and that soup determines what our cells do and what genes are activated within them.  We are not at the total mercy of the genes we carry.  The genes that get activated are determined by the signals they get from their environment.
 
Want some proof of the importance of mindset?  Check out this study: Mind-set Matters; Exercise and the Placebo Effect. Here’s a quote form the Abstract (underlining is mine):
 
In a study testing whether the relationship between exercise and health is moderated by one’s mindset, 84 female room attendants working in seven different hotels were measured on physiological health variables affected by exercise. Those in the informed condition were told that the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. Examples of how their work was exercise were provided. Subjects in the control group were not given this information. Although actual behavior did not change, 4 weeks after the intervention, the informed group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before. As a result, compared with the control group, they showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. These results support the hypothesis that exercise affects health in part or in whole via the placebo effect.
 
What the??  If we BELIEVE that what we are doing is good for us, our physiology changes to make it so!!!  This is mind-blowing. Let’s say you are a person who feels as if you never get enough exercise.  However, every morning, you walk down the stairs to brush your teeth, you bend over to get coffee out of the cupboard, you reach up to get a coffee cup, you let the dog out in the yard and toss the ball a few times and maybe chase the dog when it won’t give you the ball back.  You walk back inside and go upstairs to get dressed, reaching to the top shelf in your closet for your sweater and squatting down to get the socks out of the bottom drawer.
 
Well, look at that. You actually got in a lot of movement – shoulder stretches, squats, a little cardio, some incline and declines.  What if you started noticing all the ways you DO get enough exercise instead of telling yourself you are failing because you don’t go to the gym a few times a week.  How would your body change?
 
What other stories could you tell yourself differently to shift how your body reacts to them?  As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been working with a coach, Ariel Kiley. I email her my Wins whenever I think of them (e.g. I am winning at Sober October because I haven’t had a drink yet, or I am FULLY BOOKED this week, or my body told me to quit obsessing about WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE and just take a bath (which I did)).  This is helping me counteract that negativity bias, and it’s also providing an electronic, searchable record of my Wins, so that I can pull them up when I feel poorly about myself.  SO HELPFUL.
 
I hope you are having a great day!!  If you need a Miracalize or Opportunize Partner, feel free to shoot me an email when you get a Win. <3
 
Space to be Human Lab

  • Curious about Cranial Sacral Therapy?  Get $15 off for the month of October (use code CRANIAL) when you book your session.

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Awakening, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Trauma

Post-Traumatic Growth

Do you ever feel as if you’re not good enough?
 
Do you feel as if you don’t have enough?
 
Do you often compare yourselves to others and judge yourself (or them) harshly as a result?
 
Do you berate yourself in your own head because you have these thoughts, but you feel as if you shouldn’t think or feel these things?
 
Do you want to know why these thoughts incessantly loop through your head?
 
BECAUSE YOU ARE HUMAN
 
In the 7th century AD, yogi’s identified 3 main thoughts (and related feelings) that are endemic to all humans:I am not enough, which leads to feelings of shame and unworthiness.  This is felt in the heart center and leads us to disconnect from Self and others.I am separate from others.  This is felt in the head space, and it leads us to compare ourselves to others, leading to feelings of anger and bitterness.I don’t have enough.  This is felt in the pelvis and leads us to shut down or work too much, leading to feelings of anxiety.When I learned this information (from Dr. Betsy Rippentrop’s ReMIND course), I felt such a sense of relief.  Oh my God.  There is nothing WRONG with me.  I’m just human.  I’m having human thoughts. I’m having a human experience. Just like everyone else.  I can stop feeling bad about feeling bad.  Ahhhhh.
 
There is another super impactful piece of knowledge that was a catalyst for developing self-compassion – learning about the ACE study. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study is “one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.” (The Enlightened Marriage by Jed Diamond, PhD).  The study found a strong link between childhood trauma and disease:
 
The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Studyuncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide. (https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/)
 
What is really interesting is the “traumas” that they researched are things that many of us have gone through – things that are just a part of life in this point and time in the world:  Getting slapped/spanked, parents getting divorced/separated, having an alcoholic parent, having a member of the family be depressed, etc..  You can see the full list of ACEs here: https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/.
 
For me, learning this information and getting my ACEs score helped me develop more kindness towards myself.  I had never really considered myself as having undergone “Capital T Trauma” like severe abuse or a car accident or being orphaned, but when I learned this information I realized, “Oh Yeah.  Little Heather did have to deal with some heavy stuff that she wasn’t ready for.  She was just doing the best she could.” 
 
I think it’s important for people to realize how these seemingly minor/commonplace things that we just write off as “part of being a kid” can have a big impact on our bodies, our minds, and our overall wellbeing.  Once we have awareness of that, we can start to recognize the effects of trauma in our lives, give ourselves some grace, and then start figuring out what we need to do to heal the trauma.
 
Many experts, (Dr. Peter Levine and Scott Barry Kaufman PhD to name two) note that processing trauma can be a huge catalyst for growth and self-actualization – a concept called “Post-Traumatic Growth.”  In Kaufman’s new workbook, “Choose Growth – A Workbook for Transcending Trauma, Fear, and Self-Doubt” he shares this quote from C.S. Lewis:
 
“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
 

I love the promise of that quote!
 
If any of this resonates with you, and you want to start to process trauma, I invite you to explore one or several avenues out there to help heal trauma – mental health therapy, trauma-informed bodywork, journaling, talking to a trust friend who will just LISTEN and give you space. I have tried ALL of these methods; I’ve worked with a few different therapists, I’m working with a Somatic Experiencing Transformational Coach (and I’m in training to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner), I’m working through the Choose Growth workbook, I’m practicing listening to my body. 

What I’ve found is that unwinding the effects of trauma takes time and patience, along with a big dose of self-acceptance, non-judgement, and curiosity.  But subtly and surely, you will start to notice less constriction and more space, less fear and more curiosity, less rushing and more lingering.  And more belief that you are on your way to an “extraordinary destiny”!
 
As I mentioned last week, I went to cranial sacral therapy (CST) training this week.  If you’re a client of mine, you’ve likely experienced my cranial work, but this CST work is different.  It involves a MUCH lighter touch. It’s a method of just sitting with the body, allowing two nervous systems to communicate, providing a listening presence and enabling the body to unwind what and when it wants.  It can be a gentle way to start to process some of the trauma recorded in the body.  If you are interested in doing a CST session, you can use the code “CRANIAL” for $15 off a session in October.  Just book a Bodywork Session here.
 
If you have any questions or comments on any of this, don’t hesitate to reach out.  I also offer free 15-minute consults if you want to chat about working together.
 
Space to be Human Lab
– Curious about Cranial?  Get $15 off for the month of October (use code CRANIAL) when you book your session for the month of October.
– Remember that Meditation Medley class I was offering?  Well, if you would like to check out a few different types of meditation (a tool that can also be helpful for processing trauma), as well as get some tips for developing your own practice, check out the recordings here

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Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Yoga

Tramps, Pee, & Happy Fun Times

What do you do, just for fun?  Do you DO anything for fun?  What do you think about fun?  Is it just a “nice-to-have” or something you can experience only when you’re a kid or retired? 

I just finished “Pieces and Bits” from “Codependent No More.” This is the chapter full of “miscellaneous tidbits about codependency and self-care.”  Guess what she recommends for self-care?

FUN

Evidently it’s rather hard to have fun when we’re full of unprocessed emotions, super tense from trying to control our selves or others, and super self-conscious because we care SO MUCH what other people are thinking about us.

But Having Fun is key component of self-care!  It can be the catalyst for getting us out of pain.  Having fun helps us stay healthy. Having fun provides balance in our lives, and in doing so can help us be more productive.  And we need to have fun because it’s FUN!

But what if we no longer know how to have fun?

  • What was fun for you when you were a kid?  
    • Racing your bike against your brothers?  Watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in your PJs with your cousins?  Staying up until 2AM finishing Lord of the Rings?
  • What gives you a little spark of excitement or nervousness when you think about doing it? 
    • Taking an art class?  Striking up a conversation with a person you see on your morning walk every day?  Joining a pickleball league?
  • What makes you jealous when you see someone else doing it? 
    • Hula hooping in front of a crowd?  Wearing something that’s just a bit risqué?  Hiking the Grand Canyon?

All those are clues as to what you might find fun.  Sometimes you just need to TRY some things out and see what you think.  See how you feel.  When I first rode my Surly Ogre (a sturdy bike with big, fat tires), I was immediately transported back to being a 12-year-old and the feeling I got riding my blue Schwinn Predator into town with my dad and my brothers, intent on getting to Kardee’s ASAP so I could slice the taste buds off my tongue with a Jolly Rancher stick.   Those trips into town on my bike were SO much fun, and every time I hop on my Ogre, I feel joy. I still love to ride my road bike too, but my Surly is FUN!!!!

Speaking of fun, jumping on a trampoline, laughing with friends, jogging in nature – these are all things that can be fun.  But if you experience stress incontinence, these are all things you may avoid.  Sorry for the awkward segue, but I know many of my clients and myself are in the perimenopausal/menopausal/post-menopausal stage where a little pee with sneezing or a lot of urgency with peeing becomes a real issue.  I just listened to this podcast about the topic today and learned about some therapies that can make a HUGE difference to women.  Of course they mention the benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy, but they also talk about things like mesh slings and Botox!  It was a helpful episode from two well-credentialed women (The host is a menopause doctor, and she is interviewing a urologist), and they frankly discuss things often pushed under the rug (like the harm that acidic urine can do to sensitive vaginal skin).  This episode AGAIN reminded me of the need to do weight training (grip strength is correlated to pelvic floor strength!).  It’s so good for what ails ya, especially in these transition years.

I hope you have a fabulous Sunday; respond to this email and let me know what you did or ARE doing that is fun. I am always looking for good ideas .

Space to be Human Lab

  • I’m heading out for Cranial Sacral training tomorrow!  I am super excited about bringing this nuanced work into my practice. 

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Awakening, Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Yoga

Letting People Be Who They Are (and letting You be Who You Are)

Have you ever heard of the book “Codependent No More:  How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself”?  I think anyone who has grown up around addiction (overdrinking, overeating, any compulsive disorder), anyone who is an empath or highly sensitive person, or anyone who grew up within an oppressive religion would find this book fascinating. I’m only about ½ the way through, and it’s already brought so much light to many of my unconscious behaviors.
 
What is codependency?  Essentially, to quote the book, it’s “losing oneself in the name of helping another.”  Does that sound familiar?  For all my “healer” friends out there – what do you make of that??
 
Here are a few of the quotes that had me (a woman who has done a LOT of self-examination, therapy, shadow work, and coaching) squirming:

  •  Note: In these quotes, the author, Melody Beattie, is describing the people she worked with in a support group for wives of addicts (interestingly, Ms. Beattie recognized many of these behaviors in herself too, and all of this was written without judgement):
  • “In my group, I saw people who felt responsible for the entire world, but they refused to take responsibility for leading and living their own lives.”
  • “I saw people who constantly gave to others but didn’t know how to receive.”
  • “Yet these codependents who had such great insight into others couldn’t see themselves.  They didn’t know what they were feeling.  They weren’t sure what they thought.”
  • “I saw people who manipulated because manipulation appeared to be the only way to get anything done.  I worked with people who were indirect because the systems they lived in seemed incapable of tolerating honesty.”
  • “The codependents felt responsible for so much because the people around them felt responsible for so little; they were just taking up the slack.”
  • And here’s a quote that might strike home to fellow empaths or highly sensitive persons, “If my husband is happy, and I feel responsible for that, then I’m happy.  If he’s upset, I feel responsible for that too.  I’m anxious, uncomfortable, and upset until he feels better.  I try to MAKE him feel better.”
  • “This book is about your most important and probably most neglected responsibility; taking care of yourself.  It’s about what you can do to start feeling better.”

And it’s that last sentence that holds so much promise – even people who have lost themselves in taking care of others can feel joy and pleasure, they can find meaning and purpose, and they can reconnect with Self again. We need to start taking care of ourselves to find ourselves again.  And how do we do that?
 
Here are a few concepts that struck me:

  • Let others to BE WHO THEY ARE (stop trying to control others – even if it’s with people-pleasing and niceness).
  • Let yourself be who YOU are.
  • I am responsible for myself.
  • I am responsible for identifying and meeting my needs.
  • Don’t say Yes when you mean No.
  • Trust your feelings.
  • Build awareness around codependent behaviors, accept them without judgement (they helped you survive!), then you can work on letting go of the ones that aren’t in your best interests anymore.
  • Have gratitude for that which is good.

I’m a massage therapist.  So why I am writing about codependency?  Because of this:
“We may have started reacting and responding urgently and compulsively in patterns that hurt us.  Just feeling urgent and compulsive is enough to hurt us.  We keep ourselves in a crisis state – adrenaline flowing and muscles tensed, ready to react to emergencies that usually aren’t emergencies.”

TENSION IN THE MUSCLES CAN BE A DIRECT RESULT OF HABITUAL PATTERNS OF THINKING, REACTING, BEHAVING.

Since, as a codependent-in-recovery, I found this info so helpful, I wanted to share it with others.  There IS hope for us!  We can give ourselves more space and grace and in the process start to enjoy life again!  We can start to disentangle ourselves and let others be who they are, and LET OURSELVES BE WHO WE ARE.  That latter concept is what really grabs my attention.  This is what so many of the wisdom traditions teach – the secret to a well-lived life is authenticity – saying what we mean, meaning what we say, doing what lights us up instead of what we think we “should” do.

Learning to get to know ourselves – our true Self – is one of the foundational goals of Somatic Experiencing.  To help myself practice what I preach, I recently started working with Ariel Kiley, who is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner.  Embodying this work is SO different than intellectualizing it.  I’ve read so many books and listened to so many experts on trauma, but in two sessions with Ariel, I can FEEL what the books were trying SAY.

Last week we did a boundary exercise where Ariel had me tell her how close or how far away to get from the camera.  I assumed I would like her to be closer to me, so I had her walk towards the camera.  Then, just to experiment, I had her walk to one side, back to center, and then backwards.  As she backed away, I noticed a palpable shift.  I felt more calm, more at ease when she was a bit further away from the camera.  It surprised the hell out of me – 1) That I actually FELT a somatic response to her distance in my body and 2) That my body had a different story to tell than my mind.  She guided me to explore the sensations I was feeling – how did I KNOW that I was more comfortable with her at that distance?  As I slowed down and let myself settle into my somatic experience, I noted a subtle pulsing around my solar plexus – the seat of power in the body. 

Whoa.  I’ve never felt that before.  I felt power WITHIN MYSELF.  Instead of searching outward to see what the situation or the other person needs from me, I was able to settle in myself and see what I need.

It blew me away that such a simple exercise could be so powerful.

This story is just to show you that you CAN discover yourself. It takes work. It’s uncomfortable.  You won’t be good at it to start.  But it’s worth it!

And every time you get bodywork, or you meditate, or you stay with a feeling or a sensation and don’t numb it, you are doing that hard work.  You are embarking on the journey of rediscovering who you are, what you feel, what you think, what you desire, and what you need.  And when you get those little pings – “Hmm, I feel like I need to take a break and put my feet in the grass for 2 minutes,” honor that ping and see what happens.  When you feel yourself reaching for some distraction, ask yourself, “What do I really need right now?”  And just see what comes up, if anything.

I hope you have STUPENDOUS SUNDAY!  We have visitors next week, so I won’t be sending a newsletter.  If you miss me terribly though, you can always find messages from me here. 😛

Space to be Human Lab

  • I’ve updated the description of my services on my booking site.  What used to be called “Massage Therapy/NST” is now called “Bodywork Session.”  A bodywork session can include massage therapy/NST, but it can also include yoga, mindful movement, self-massage, breath work, meditation.  All of these tools can help reduce pain and tension.  If any of these tools strikes your fancy, let me know, and during your next session, we can explore them. 

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Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Yoga

Are you a Creator?

I listened to a really fascinating podcast yesterday with Bruce Lipton.  Bruce Lipton is a stem cell biologist, who around the age of 40, realized that we are not determined by our DNA.  In his research, he noted that stem cells would become muscles cells if placed in one culture medium, bone cells if placed in a different culture medium, or skin cells if placed in a different medium.  The cells themselves were all the same thing; they had all the exact same DNA, but they expressed themselves differently based on the solution they were put into.
 
From this observation, Dr. Lipton realized that we are not victims of the DNA we carry.  The soup that our cells sit in affects how our genes express themselves (a concept called epi-genetics).  And we do have quite a bit of control over the soup in which our cells swim.  Our brains are constantly thinking thoughts that release different chemicals into the petri dish within our skin.
 
Try this experiment:

  • Think about your first crush. Or your most recent crush. Think back to that time when your heart started to pound when your object of affection entered the room.  Remember how you couldn’t take your eyes off of him or her.  What happened when that person came close to you – maybe even just brushing lightly against or shoulder? Remember how it felt to catch their eye, and your heart just utterly stops.

What is going on inside your body right now?  Are you suddenly warmer?  A bit breathless maybe?  Feeling some tingles?
 
 Ok. 

  • Now think about a project you’ve been putting off – something you really, really don’t want to do, but you have to do it.  But UGH. You SO don’t want to. 

What are you feeling now?  What happened to the state of tension in your body?  What happened to your breath?
 
Can you see how your internal environment completely changed, but NOTHING CHANGED IN YOUR EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT?!  With your mind you were changing the hormones cascading through your blood, you were altering the PH of your blood by changing your breath, you were modifying the forces on your cells by changing the level of tension in your muscles.  You created a completely altered inner world just by changing where you focused your attention.
 
Whoa.
 
How does this factor in to our pain experience? 
 
I recently started physical therapy to help with some chronic low back pain.  In the first session, the PT ran me through several assessments and noted that according to his testing, I don’t have any disc issues.  I IMMEDIATELY felt a sense of relief and a lessening of pain.  Absolutely nothing in my physical structure changed, yet my pain experience changed, because my thoughts changed. 
 
Not to say that thoughts are the only input into our experience of pain or sickness.  The external environment (what we breathe and eat) has an impact, as does the quality of our relationships.  Our belief in a higher power, doing work we find meaningful, being active and moving our bodies – all these things contribute to the experience of pain in our body.  But those pesky thoughts are pretty darn influential.
 
But what can we do about our thoughts?
 
First of all, you can just start to notice them.  Build awareness of your thoughts.  You can start to map out what’s going on in your head by breaking down your stories.  I recently took a class on Emotional Intelligence, and it reiterated that the first step in developing your emotional intelligence is self-awareness.  I thought I was pretty self-aware, but I utterly failed the pre-test.  Feelings/emotions/moods were all jumbled up in my awareness. 
 
So, if you’re like me and don’t really understand what you are thinking and feeling, you can experiment with breaking down what’s going on in your head into the following categories:
 
Event
Something that happens.
“It hurts when I try to bend over and put my socks on.”
Interpretation
Your thought about the thing that happened.
“Shit.  My back is a hot mess, and I might need surgery.”
Feeling
Physiological sensations in your body.
“My heart is racing.  I feel a bit shaky.  My shoulders are tense.” 
Emotion
Name the emotion you are feeling.
“I am doing Anxiety.”
 
Mapping out your thoughts like this can help you start to build awareness around them. And then eventually you can start working with that Interpretation section and start to explore possible other stories that might create a more positive “soup” for your cells to live in.  Like, when I bend over and my back hurts, I can think, “Thanks for the reminder to do my exercises to strengthen my back.” And then I feel a sense of openness and warmth, and the emotion of calmness.
 
What stories could you notice today? What happens when you start to slow them down, pick them apart, and name the sensations you are feeling and the emotion you are experiencing?  Here’s a sheet that will give you some language for describing sensations.
 
And with that, I’m signing off.  Happy Sunday from soggy and chilly Iowa.  AUTUMN IS COMING!!
 
Space to be Human Lab

  • Do you want to feel more relaxed, more present, more aware and appreciative of the beauty around you?  When we are in this state (called the parasympathetic state), our body can heal and renew itself, leading to decreased pain and improved performance.  You can book a therapy session with me here; we can work together (aka co-create!) to find what tools and techniques you need to feel better in your body. 

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Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Productivity, Yoga

What Do Meditation, Range, And Addiction Have In Common?


I’m aligning with my Gemini Rising self today and sharing a medley of things I’m reading, listening to, or pondering.
 
Meditation Medley
My Meditation Medley class has begun!  We spent the first week practicing Just One Breath.  Over the next several weeks we’ll explore several other types.  It’s not too late to sign up for the class!

  • The class will be held on the following dates from 12:45PM – 1PM CDT:
    • Aug 30, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 6, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 13, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 20, 2022 12:45 PM
    • Sep 27, 2022 12:45 PM
  • You can register for the class here.
  • For payment, I am asking for donations to the QC Yoga Foundation.  We’d love to get a donation of $25 for the class, but any amount or no amount is also acceptable. 
    • You can make a donation to the QC Yoga Foundation here

Here is a link to the recording from Week 1, in case you want to check out what a class is like.   The class is held over Zoom, but you don’t need to share your camera.  You can see me, in case that helps you focus better (our faces help co-regulate each other, per Science and polyvagal theory).

Range
One of my favorite authors and mentors (Dr. Matthew Taylor) gave me this book to read: Range:  Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.  As a Generalist who historically has felt bad about being a Generalist, I have to say I LOVE THIS BOOK.  It’s making me appreciate my natural inclinations instead of seeing them as a fault. 

This book provides many stories (about Vivaldi, Van Gogh, Sebastian Junger, Haruki Murakami, Patrick Rothfuss, etc.)  and much research to support the benefits of pursuing many different interests as a method for figuring out what you really want to do with this one wild and crazy life.

Trying many things and failing is a how you figure out what you really love to do.  Taking ACTION to figure out what you want to do with your life (“I know who I am when I see what I do”) is the secret sauce.

The advice from the book in a nutshell: Dabble!!  Flirt with your possible selves!  Work forward from promising situations instead of working backwards from a goal.

Being a Generalist also helps you synthesize ideas from a variety of domains, which can lead to really inspired insights that someone who goes super deep into one specific area may miss.

I’m about half-way through the book, so I may write more about it in a future letter.  Little known fact – in 5th grade I broke the school record for writing the most book reports, so I have some skillz in that domain.

Addiction
“You’re not alone, and I love you.”  If we approached our loved ones who suffer from addiction with that energy, what would shift?  According to this TedTalk, the antidote to addiction is CONNECTION!

Alcohol
And on a related note, Dr. Huberman (one of my favorite podcasters and scientists) did a podcast episode on alcohol and its effects on the body. If you enjoy a cocktail regularly (especially if you average 7-14 drinks/week (like I do)), this podcast will give you pause.  The effects on brain health, hormonal health, gut health, mental health, and immune system health are, not to be too dramatic, but devastating.  This podcast has given me some really meaty food for thought.  I’m not sure where I’ll go with this, but I’m considering at least another 30 day reset. 

Space to be Human Lab

  • I appreciate referrals SO MUCH.  If you know someone who needs to work with me, please send them my way.  If they book a session, I’ll apply a coupon for $10 off your next session.  Thank you!!
  • Here is a link to book an NST session, a Yoga Tune Up session, or purchase gift certificates.

I hope you are enjoying this late summer evening!  I had my windows open today, and I feel as if I was deafened by the cicadas!  

<3

Heather

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Meditation, Mindset, Pain, Yoga

Don’t Read Me if You’re a Muggle

How the Mysteries may save us

Well, it’s Sunday, and I have a bunch of stuff on my mind.  I’m hoping that as I write, it starts to morph into a coherent throughline, but I’m not making any promises!  I totally understand if you stop reading this right now and go play outside.  BUT, it might be worth it to stay with me.  We’ll see.
 
I’ve been picking up on a current in the ether lately that is capturing my interest.  I’m noticing a few different threads, actually, but I think they are all part of the same rope.  Or wave.  I think I started to mix metaphors there.
 
Thread #1: Slow down to save yourselves and the world
 
I recently finished the book Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future.  It is written by 4 uber-distinguished individuals – Peter Senge (MIT lecturer), Otto Scharmer (another MIT lecturer), Joseph Jawarski (cofounder of the Global Leadership Initiative), and Betty Sue Flowers (Director of the Johnson Presidential library).  And – OMG – I just realized my copy is signed by Peter Senge.  Whoa.
 
ANYWAY
 
This book by fancy schmancy super smart people basically reiterates the yogic sentiment that we are all parts of whole, and we need to start thinking less about Me and more about We; otherwise, life as we know it will end (aka The Requiem Scenario).  HAPPY SUNDAY!  But to do this, we need to develop presence.  We need to observe the world as it is and as we are, we need to retreat and reflect and allow inner knowing to emerge and become a vehicle for something new to arise, and we need to take action on what arises. 
 
That first step is critical – we MUST develop self-awareness in order to break out of the matrix of our conditioning and see something new.  But guess what!  Just like we talked about last week in the post about Somatic Experiencing, in order to develop self-awareness you have to slow the f*ck down!!  (Don’t ask me why I am more comfortable using a euphemism for “f*ck” than the actual word.  I probably need to do some self-reflection on why I feel it necessary to use the word at all if I am not comfortable using the real word.  Brains be weird!!).  
 
Thread #2: There is still some magic left in the world.
 
We (and me) are made of Mystery.  We think that because we know why the sky is blue and where rainbows come from, there is no more magic in the world.  But oh boy.  We could not be more wrong! 
 
Two examples from Presence really struck me:

  1. On page 200, the authors discuss a study that showed that random number generators (RNGs) around the world behaved in HIGHLY NON-RANDOM WAYS on 9/11/01.  The RNGs are protected from forces that could affect their randomness, yet, on 9/11 the non-random behavior began at 5AM and peaked at 11AM, EDT, matching the timelines of events that day.  WTF?!  Me affects We.
  2. On page 247, the authors discuss a study done by a Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto.  He used MRIs to take pictures of the crystals formed when water freezes.  As you read the following, please remember that we humans are about 70% water (and the earth is covered about 70% by water).  Mr. Emoto took photos of water from sacred sources, from polluted sources, and from distilled water.  The crystals formed by natural springs and sacred sources were GORGEOUS.  They looked like beautiful stained glass works of art.  The crystals from the polluted water looked like a slug, but uglier.  The distilled water had no structure to it – it looked just like a nebulous blob.  UNTIL.  When they played music around the distilled water, the water formed crystals that “seem to visually reflect the essence of the music – the geometric precision of Bach, the balance of order  and flow of Mozart, the beautiful simplicity of folk music.”  They also had a priest pray over some distilled water for an hour, and when they took new pictures, the water formed amazing 7-sided crystals.  The priest had prayed to the Seven Bezaiten, the Goddesses of Fortune.”  WHOA.  (I want to note that his work is controversial – some experts think it’s quackery and others think it’s legit.  And maybe, both things are true??).

What’s the point of me sharing this with you? 
1.  To give you hope.  The world is full of strife and pain and potential destruction, but it’s also full of joy and wonder and the infinite creative possibility. 
2.  To remind me and you that by taking care of our own body, mind, and spirit, we can literally positively impact the entire network of life (we’re all part of a connected field). 
3.  To reinforce how powerful our thoughts are.  If thoughts (aka prayer) can change the crystallization of water, and we are 70% water, what are we doing to our bodies (and our pain experience) with our thoughts?  You can find more science related to this concept in this article I wrote a few years ago.
4.  Changing our thoughts can be super difficult, especially patterns of thought that have been with us since we formed our impression of the world as toddlers.  But an accessible first step is to participate in a contemplative practice like meditation or journaling, so we can start to build awareness of our mind stream. 

There you go.  I found the book very inspiring and really enjoyed its message of hope, so I wanted to share it with you.

I’ll leave you with a quote from a recent interview with Dr. Roger Walsh on the Neurohacker podcast. This quote reminded me that it’s OK (and actually a good thing) to sit in confusion and paradox. 

“All is mystery, and here is our best guess.”

We don’t know what we don’t know, and what we know is probably going to end up being proven wrong some day.  It’s all just an educated guess.

Space to be Human Lab

  • If you are interested in developing more presence, either by developing a meditation habit or by exploring embodiment practices, I can help!  You can book a 60-minute embodiment session here: Booking link.  I also am currently offering free 30 minute sessions focused on the Somatic Experiencing work.
  • If you have a friend, coworker, or loved one who is in pain, and you would like to help them feel better, please let them know they can use this code for $10 off their first session: FEELBETTER.

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Habit Change, Health & Fitness, Massage Therapy, Meditation, Mindset, Yoga

A bad case of The Clench.

Hello There!  If you are in the Quad Cities today, you are experiencing probably the MOST beautiful day we’ve had this year.  Nature is a great reset for our minds and bodies, and as I am feeling very…sucked up inside myself (just breathe, Heather!), I am going to take massive advantage of it today.  So, today’s post will be short, so that all of us can go outside and play.  Also, I am going to be on vacation (South Dakota, here we come!) starting next weekend, so you will be newsletter-free. 😛
 
Since today I need to hear some advice on how to regulate a spun-up nervous system, that is precisely what I am going to share with you.
 
Side note:  Why am I wound up today?  WHO KNOWS?!  It could be hormones.  It could be what I ate and/or drank yesterday.  It could be dehydration.  It could be indecision about a decision.  It could be all the things I want to/need to get done before we leave for our trip.  Maybe it’s contemplating the cost of gas and food and fun whilst on vacation.  It could be the 60 to 80,000 thoughts, stories, and internal narratives assaulting me daily.  And it’s most likely a combination of all of the above.  But I guess The Why really isn’t the important thing. The Important thing is, I’ve noticed I’m feeling a bit tense, wound up, and fast.  So.  What next?

  1. Spend 90 seconds just sitting and noticing the sensations I feel in my body.  According to Dr. Joan Rosenberg, the vibrations associated with an emotion last just 90 seconds.
  2. Locate the sensations (I feel it in my throat and belly) and see what happens if I inhale and exhale through the area.
  3. Acknowledge that I am feeling anxiety.  Ask myself, “Is that a problem?”  What happens if I just allow it to be there instead of fighting it and pushing it away (which adds a layer of suffering on top of the layer of anxiety)?
  4. Lay on my back in Constructive Rest and take some long, slow smooth breaths.
  5. Write.  Get all the thoughts out of my head and on paper and look at them objectively.  Preferably this should be done in a Moleskine journal with a nice pen.  Just sayin.
  6. Take a walk, encourage the furrow between my brow to relax.  Open up my peripheral vision.  Notice all the shades of green.  Notice the sounds of the birds and the wind in the leaves. Notice the smell of the lilacs.
  7. Take an Epsom salt bath (FYI – my sister-in-law’s sister told me that taking a hot bath with ½ cup of Epsom salts, ½ cup of baking soda, and ½ a cup of kosher salt can be a mind-opening experience.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to tonight!).
  8. Pet Huehuetenango Schneiderjohns.  Here is a picture of him playing with his new Chewbacca toy. 
  9. Roll my abdomen with the Coregeous ball (this would also help that pesky low back pain).
  10. Do something fun!  Tim and I plan to bike over the new I-74 bridge this afternoon.

There’s my top 10 list of self-advice.  Oh shoot. I just thought of another one.

11. If I’m forbidden to call what I am feeling “anxiety”, what would I call it?  Anxiety can be a “cover” emotion that hides something deeper going on. What emotion am I hiding from by saying I feel anxious?  (This also comes from the podcast linked in #1).

Ok.  Now I’m really done.  Hopefully if you struggle with that fast/spinny/unable to exhale sensation, this list will give you some ideas to experiment with.  And I’ll remind both of us that:  MAYBE FEELING ANXIETY IS NOT A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE SOLVED.

Space to be Human Lab

  • The Lab will be closed 5/28 to 6/5.
  • Don’t let your self-care suffer during the busy summer months!  You can purchase a 3 pack of 60 or 90 minute sessions and save $10 per session!  Link here (click on Products and Packages link at the top).

Happy Sunday!  I look forward to regaling you with stories from South Dakota when I write again on the 5th. 😛
 
<3

Hlo
 
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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