It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
Writing my most recent book Healing Trauma with Yoga forced me to get stuck and unstuck. A project that has not only consumed a lot of time, but obviously forced me to deal with a lot of my own issues around my own personal life experience and trauma. We all have ways that we distract ourselves, some healthier than others. Even with awareness, we can still participate in unhealthy behaviors. Here are some of the things I do to get unstuck that might also help you.
A long walk with my dog or a trip to the dog park to just enjoy dog joy. There is an unbridled joy that animals bring. They exist in the now, don’t get distracted by social media, and are very present and alert. The act of caring for a pet that gives unconditional love will bring immense joy (especially if you rescued the animal). I love walking with Bentley and taking him to play as it forces me to be present.
You don’t need to practice yoga to bring the healing benefits of Ayurveda into your life. The phenomenon of being grounded involves being centered, focused, embodied, and in better control of all of your faculties. It is a helpful state of being for reducing anxiety, dealing with depression, and addressing trauma. Here are nine things anyone can do today to begin a journey to wellness.
Walk in the Grass in Bare Feet
I wasn’t born an optimist.
In fact… quite the opposite.
I was a moody, sullen, often seriously depressed child and young adult.
One night, at age 26, I decided that I was going to find the secret of happiness.
I was at a party in Coconut Grove, Florida, at the waterfront home of a millionaire, surrounded by people seemingly having a great time. I felt like such an outsider amidst the laughing, smiling party-goers. I had never felt so alone.
I wanted to have a great time, I just didn’t know how.
I thought it was something that just “happened” to lucky people.
In that moment, as I stood on the dock overlooking beautiful Biscayne Bay, I promised myself that I would do whatever it took to discover the secret to happiness.
During the next several years I went to therapy, read a lot of books, attended workshops and discovered that most of the time happiness is a choice. Even when really bad stuff is happening!
I found out that I am an HSP – a highly sensitive person and essentially very shy. I had to break through my fear of people and really make an effort to learn how to connect, make small talk, and allow myself to “be seen.”
Identify and let go of emotional baggage from difficult times
Life is full of emotional ups and downs. Sometimes the hardships we experience can be so overwhelming that they leave us stuck with feelings that can hamper our happiness or even harm our health and well-being.
The impact of negative emotions from traumatic and difficult events is a growing concern during the challenging times we now face. One new study, for instance, finds the emotional well-being of most American adults has been “broadly and substantially affected by COVID-19 and the related changes in life and society.”
Emotional distress related to COVID-19 is associated with higher frequency of clinical levels of anxiety, depression, and general life stress, along with lower reported levels of overall happiness, according to the U.S. National Pandemic Emotional Impact Report from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School.
Prolonged and/or intense negative feelings can have effects long after the events that precipitate them. They can take a toll on emotional, mental, and physical health and compel people to behave in ways that damage their relationships or impact their ability to have healthy, long-lasting bonds.
We are all blessed with access to an infallible source of truth and guidance. If you tune into your feelings – which is the main way the aspect of your your soul that is within you communicates with you – while listening to or reading the news, you can actually feel what is true and right, and what is false and wrong. The problem is that many people have learned not to trust these feelings – to listen to ‘authorities’ rather than to the truth that comes directly from our soul within.
Our soul is way too big to fit into our body, so some of our soul is within and some is all around us. We are within our soul and our soul is within us. The part of our soul that is all around us is also an infallible source of truth and guidance, and it pops the truth and the loving actions into our mind when we are open to learning about the truth, and about what is in our highest good.
When I see news (I don’t watch it but I do scan it), I tune into my gut feelings and I also tune into my higher self, asking about what is true and what isn’t, and what is loving to me, and I can feel and hear what is true and right.
EVERYTHING IS A GIFT. We only need to appreciate what we have, to have enough.
The Gift of who you are is a precious gift of Life. The gift of life is unmerited, undeserved, unearned and generous beyond measure. We do not earn our breath; it is a gift.
HEARTFULNESS is a process to restore our natural state of harmony, creating a lifestyle of being who you are and becoming more of all you are.
Heartfulness and Mindfulness are both aspects of Awarefulness. Meditation in a pure sense is being with the source of Life.
The experience of harmony is personal. You have to do it yourself. The awareness of Harmony is always available as life expressing as us.
"Giving love to someone is like trying to give them a breath, when they can only breathe for themselves. You can breathe with others but you cannot breathe for them." Will Hale 2-11-15
As the notions of “holistic” and “wholeness” became popular in recent decades, they also turned into a paradox. People who focused on holistic health, diet, and wellness found themselves to be cut off from people who didn’t care about such things (which is the majority). Trying to be holistic wound up making you separate, which is the opposite of being whole. The meditation/wholefoods/yoga people are a splinter group from the McDonald’s/Monday Night Football/TGIF people.
Perhaps a misunderstanding lies at the bottom of this situation. Wholeness people tend to feel that they are waiting for non-wholeness people to catch on, a little like non-smokers and teetotalers waiting for chain-smokers and beer drinkers to catch on. This divide disappears, however, once you realize that you cannot make yourself whole, while on the other side of the coin you cannot make yourself unwhole. Everyone is whole already.
A simple observation is enough to clarify why wholeness is inescapable. Imagine someone sitting at a computer doing a task. You cannot see the monitor, so you don’t know what their task is. The physical body you see is a person; the thinker responding to the computer screen is a person. The two must co-exist, uniting two sides of reality, physical and mental. This union defines everyone’s existence. You were born whole, and the only thing that separates you from a random stranger is what you decide to do with your wholeness.
Here we are looking beyond lifestyle, although that would seem to be the most glaring difference between people. Instead, how you use your wholeness primarily centers on something else: awareness. Someone in the meditation/whole foods/yoga group can be miserable, conflicted, and anxious while someone in the other group is content, loving, and secure. Clearly awareness is involved in this difference, but how?
Some pessimism has been circulating about lifespan recently. In the modern era lifespan has increased every decade, and dying before you turn seventy would now be considered a premature death. Three score and ten is no longer a destination for a normal life, and average lifespans among people who are not underprivileged could easily top ninety in the near future.
The difference in quality of life is now more important than lifespan on its own, because the health status of two seventy-year-olds can vary wildly. The concept to keep in mind is healthspan, defined as the years you spend without infirmity, chronic disease, and dementia. Right now healthspan is a hit and miss proposition.
While we are told that our genes determine how we age, this needs to be clarified. Research on identical twins reveals that it’s not your genes that determine your healthspan but your lifestyle, nutrition, and gut microbiome that play a much more important role. Identical twins are born with the same genes, a fact that will not change over the decades, but by age seventy, many identical twins are as unalike in their health status as two people chosen at random.
During the pandemic, many people are taking extra care to stay well with measures such as wearing masks in public, maintaining physical distance, and washing their hands frequently. This is also a time when we should be thinking about ways to bolster our immune system to help us fight off not only COVID-19 but also all kinds of illness.
Your immune system protects your body from harmful substances, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and toxins. It is made up of different organs, cells, and proteins that work together.
Without an immune system, you’d likely be sick all the time — if you lived very long!
The immune system consists of two parts: the innate immune system you are born with, and the adaptive immune system the body develops as it is exposed to microbes over time. These two systems are closely related and work together when a germ or other outside substance triggers an immune response.
Your immune system doesn’t protect you perfectly 100% of the time. Most people gets sick once in a while, even if it is just a common cold or stomach bug. But when you think of all the bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens you’re exposed to every day, it’s evident your immune system is working hard 24/7.
The lockdown that occurred in the face of COVID-19 brings to light something almost everyone overlooked in the past. We are now an indoor species. This was already true before the lockdown. Outdoor work has declined radically since the Industrial Revolution. In the West today we spend on average over 90% of our lives inside, whether in our homes, offices, schools, hotels or restaurants.
This development is contrary to most of human history, which was spent primarily outdoors. Unknown to most people, the boxes we now occupy have a profound impact on our health and well-being. Our physical and social environments conceivably have as much impact on our health as factors more widely recognized, such as genetics, lifestyle, and behavior patterns. Indoors the elements of air and water quality, lighting, temperature, and acoustics can all have a direct impact on such diverse things as respiration, sleep, immunity, and cardiovascular health.
People are feeling fear and worry over the pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans and left more than 40 million unemployed. Many of us are praying for peace as injustice persists and protests turn violent.
In times of turmoil like these, it is normal to feel anxious, as no one can say with any certainty what will come next. It’s natural to want to check the news or social media feeds to see what is going on. But this can become a problem when our bodies’ fight-or-flight impulse is triggered repeatedly.
According to ongoing research from LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey, women are facing a heavier workload and are feeling more anxious than men during the pandemic. The survey finds women are more than twice as likely as men to experience physical symptoms of severe anxiety, such as a racing heartbeat. More than half of women report sleep issues, compared to about a third of men.
We cannot control all the turmoil that is going on around us, but there are things we can do to protect our emotional health. This starts with understanding how our emotions — both the ones we are experiencing in the present moment and the ones that echo from the past — can affect our mental and physical health, and doing what we can to improve our emotional health.
Have you ever had a light bulb moment when a fresh new idea came to you? My favorite time of day for Aha! moments is first thing in the morning, laying in bed, calm and supported. Resting in a receptive atmosphere, observing my thoughts, feelings and sensations without resistance or judgement.
The first three skills of Harmony are,
1. Feel your heartbeat
3. Rest into calm
This is what I call a Harmony Refresh. It is the foundation of everything I do in the Heartful Harmony System. This creates a fertile environment for every heart desire.
The Harmony Refresh skill is easy to learn. For a free pdf guide and more information Click Here
THE FOURTH SKILL OF HARMONY is the first of four power boosts to amplify the effects of a Harmony Refresh.
I have simplified decades of meditation practice into the Seven Skills of Harmony.
The coronavirus is showing us the profound impacts of our choices. It is demolishing the fantasy that we are powerless and replacing it with a new experience of responsibility –responsibility for the well-being of others. It is here that the coronavirus reveals itself to be an exquisite creation of wisdom and compassion that is far beyond the capability of students in the Earth school, but not beyond their ability to understand.
The well-being of others requires our well-being. This is not a lofty, altruistic principle. The choice to disregard our health and well-being is one and the same choice to disregard the health and well-being of all others. It is one thing to recklessly, thoughtlessly, or childishly put your life at risk. I have done that. It is another to put the life of another or others at risk. I have done that also. You have the right to damage yourself. You have the right even to throw your life away. In other words, you have free will. You do not have the right to jeopardize the health of another. You do not have the right to take the life of another.
June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, and this year many people are struggling with personal loss, fear, and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic is a national trauma, but not everyone who suffers loss or extreme stress from it will develop PTSD, psychologist and marriage and family counselor Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker writes in PsychCentral.com. She notes that an estimated 3.6% of U.S. adults had PTSD in the past year, yet an estimated 70% of U.S. adults have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives, according to data from a national survey.
PTSD is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. If you suspect that you or someone you love is suffering from PTSD, you may need to seek help from a licensed mental health professional.
By Deepak Chopra, MD and Gustaf Kranck, M.Sc.
There is widespread awareness of the wellness movement in this country, and the term “self-care” is being more and more recognized. Since advice has existed for decades on proper diet, exercise, sleep, and the avoidance of alcohol and tobacco, in what way is self-care an advance? This seems like a critical question during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Self-care is an advance over the usual well-known preventive measures if it can do more, in other words, if there are choices that improve the whole mind-body system. Increasingly the key to self-care seems to be the vagus nerve. The general public awaits a silver-bullet treatment and a future vaccine, but the benefits associated with the vagus nerve are accessible by anyone right now.
That’s the 15 extra pounds many people report they are putting on right now due to being stuck in their homes with nothing to do, tempted by the stocks of junk food they tossed into their shopping carts during their final visit to the grocery store.
There’s no question we turn to food for comfort when we’re feeling bored, anxious, and empty. And then we hate seeing the number on the scale rising, with seemingly no power to stop it.
But we do have the power to stop it if we remember certain inner-life truths about eating, and have some simple practices to help keep us from over-indulging.
Let’s start with facts about food.
The first purpose of the food we eat is to provide us with the best possible fuel needed for our interior and exterior work. This is especially important during this time of crisis, which is also a time of great possibility for our inner development.
The second purpose of food is to remind us that whatever we’re given to nourish ourselves with should always be taken in with a measure of gratitude. Being grateful for our food helps us eat mindfully, instead of unconsciously stuffing ourselves without satisfaction.
The third purpose of food is for the pleasure it can provide. No one would deny the pleasure food provides, but again, mindless eating is not even enjoyable.
So those are three purposes of food, and having them out of order — as they so often are — is one of the chief causes of our physical misery.
There is no question that the kind of food we eat, as well as our relationship to it, when we eat it, impacts us. The body is a factory capable of producing an extraordinary product—however, junk in — junk out. The body breaks down, and the mind loses its capacity to consider even its own condition. Why Is Mindful Eating So Important?
Eating a healthy diet and doing proper exercise is essential for allowing maximum inward possibility. In these days of the pandemic, that means eating healthfully so we can use these unprecedented times to develop our inner strength and understanding.
The more consciously we eat, the more we begin to contact (and be contacted by) higher energy. This relationship is what we really want. It is the source of the inner strength we need now more than ever. Unconscious appetites keep us from developing a love for this one relationship that can actually fulfill our need for love, security, happiness, and peace.