Friday, April 26, 2013


Why I like the AEIOUY: an exercise we are practicing in our Cultivating Joy Group.

A – Abstinent. What is it that I need to let go of? For me, it’s the automatic negative thoughts. The beating myself up for not being perfect!

E- Have I exercised today? Oh my God, I have to exercise! That’s the one thing I have to do for me, and it has to be joyful, fun exercise.   It cannot be another chore, to do list or trigger my “no pain, no gain” mentality.  This is a joyful gift I give to myself.

I- What have I done for myself today? That’s often the hardest thing for all of us, and certainly what we are practicing in our cultivating joy group.

O- What have I done for others. This also can be hard and I’m going to explain why.

We are seeking the balance between caring for ourselves and caring for others.  If we are a “caregiver”, or more likely have been a “caretaker”, this can be unsettling.

Change can be challenging, even positive change, and learning self-care is no different. When we are practicing the new skill of self-care or putting ourselves first, this may be threatening to others and scary for us too.  Relationships are like a seesaw.  When we try and make a change whether it is our eating habits or speaking up about our needs, this may cause the seesaw to shake or become unstable. How do we make changes without threatening our family and friends?  Incrementally, with patience, love and compassion and support of a coach, mentor, or group.

Dieting is a good example of this, of being off center and out of balance.  We recognize the pain our weight gain has caused and so we often starve ourselves on these crazy diets; low fat, low carb, high-protein whatever diets, often depriving ourselves of essential and healthy fats, carbohydrates or proteins.  So we find ourselves on one side of the pendulum for a while until we say, “screw this! I deserve that jelly doughnut!” and BAM we are on the other side of that pendulum again. So we are actually seesawing our weight instead of having a practice, and taking small daily baby steps towards our goal.   Worse, yet is when we beat ourselves up for “falling off the wagon” and enlisting the fear that we simply cannot change.   Instead we need to recognize that the pendulum will sway back and forth but with a practice, smaller swings with less force until it reaches equilibrium.  As my daughter reminds me, “practice not perfection”.  This of course, is where a coach can help as well as daily journaling and daily reminders to practice self- compassion.

So I am going to make small incremental changes so that I’m not swinging the pendulum. So it is not unsustainable for me or for my loved ones that I live, work, and associate with.

U- Am I holding onto Unexpressed emotions today.  Am I being true to myself, authentic or am I in my default “people pleasing” mode? Are the intentions of my actions from fear or insecurity or from a place of love?

Y- Yeah! Practicing gratitude for something good that has happened today. How can we pat ourselves on the back?  This is such a great way to end each day, with a gratitude journal. What was right today? What should I feel good about today? Maybe, I finally got this monkey off my back. It all comes back to baby steps. Really don’t forget to pat yourself on the back!

It takes five positives to undo a negative, and we need to give ourselves five positive affirmations for every time we beat ourselves up over something.  This can be counter-intuitive. We are hard wired to see the negative.  The most primal part of our brain is the amygdala in the back of the brain and it stimulates our sympathetic nervous system or our “fight or flight” reflex and as I explain in my talk on adrenal fatigue, you cannot relax, heal or lose weight when you are in this mode.   So we have to make a conscious choice, to recognize our fears, the negative self talk and CHOOSE to sit with it and ask ourselves is this really true?  Is our internal conversation initiating our self -limiting fears, or is that who we truly are?  Then we need to decide if we are going to allow our thoughts to control us or use our frontal brain, our executive functioning part of brain responsible for choice to control our thoughts, feelings and actions.  This is the part of the brain that is stimulated in meditation and in deep breathing exercises and what activates our parasympathetic nervous system, the heal and repair section of our brain.  

So the practice of positive affirmations, and the practice of gratitude is an essential antidote to stress and to creating a life of joy.  To say that most of us do not practice this is an understatement, but it is a practice we can cultivate.  So the task for this week is to continue to journal, every night at a minimum, think about what we are grateful for, relax, smile and begin to create your dream life.

What is it that inspires you and keeps you going when you are flooded with negative thoughts, anxiety or depression?   Do you seek support or do you isolate?  Does this help or hinder you? What kind of practice works best for you?  Will you share with us?

Thank you for joining me in this journey. Thank you for being here to practice this, and to help spread more joy and gratitude.

Carpe Diem!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More on Fear...What is the antidote to Fear?

A plea for my daughter Dana, More on Fear…What is the antidote to Fear?

Today my daughter Dana is going in for her 6 month PET Scan of which I acutely feel in my heart.  In our journey and my work with The Mindfulness Center, I have learned that you are not fully in recovery until you can let go of the fear.  I know, “Easier said than one…”

This is why I gave every member of my family and a few close friends, the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” this year for Christmas and a big catalyst for my group on “Cultivating Joy”.  Written by Brene Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., the book is your guide to a wholehearted life.  I am using her book as one of the tools and a guide for our group that gets together and practices courage, compassion and connection, the three “C’s” that Brene has identified as essential for developing resilience and an antidote against fear and anxiety.

What is the ultimate antidote to fear?  It is not courage. Courage comes from the latin word Cour and means owning and telling your story with your whole heart.  Dana is certainly accomplishing that with her blog that has reached over 10,000 people showing us her strength, her courage, her humor and her gift of writing. 

According to Gary Zukav, which I now believe to be true, the antidote to fear is love.  Every day, every moment we have a choice on how to think, act and respond to the situation given to us.  We can either choose to react based on our fears or set the intention to respond out of love.

When I let my fear overcome me I become the over-functioning, caretaking, crazed mother who is desperately trying to “fix” Dana with the right combination of food, supplements, yoga and meditation.  Don’t get me wrong, these practices can be life changing and transformational, but my beautiful daughter does not need “fixing”.   

Dana is perfectly imperfect and like all of us, like nature intended, has the ability to heal from within.  All of us can choose love over fear.  Again this requires courage, compassion (self compassion) and connection.   This requires a practice and a safe place and community for support.

Last night, I posted on my Facebook page that I had been listening to Candace Pert, another well-known Ph.D researcher who discussed the importance of authenticity and emotional integrity.  She sited research on spontaneous remissions happening after an angry outburst and suggests that releasing pent up emotions can be a dramatic boost to the immune system.  I’ve already stated previously how Dean Ornish, M.D. book on Love & Survival, speaks to the research on how much more powerful and essential Love is to healing.

Finally, how do we cultivate Joy & Gratitude?  First we have to let go of the practices of numbing and learn how to cultivate a resilient spirit, which Dana is proving good at.  Second, we must let go of scarcity and fear.  Scarcity is when we keep saying to ourselves, “I don’t have enough (time, money, health, etc.).  As Deepak Chopra says, If you think you don’t have enough time that is the fastest way to a heart attack.  Our subconscious thoughts are drivers of our reality.

What is Joy?
Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness. Happiness is
 a sort of atmosphere you can live in sometimes when you’re lucky.
Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love.
-Adela Rogers St. John

Here is my Plea, a request for action.  Please join me TODAY, right now as she is getting her scan, in spreading hope and faith and love to Dana.  Please send your Metta, your LOVE & Kindness, your prayers and meditations to my daughter Dana so she can feel in her heart this positive healing energy and be filled with hope and faith and love.

With Love & Gratitude,

Dana's "Momma Bear"

Please sign up and join us in Mind Body Week DC next week to learn more about the science and research behind the power to heal from within.  Don’t forget to sign up for our workshop at Beloved Yoga Studio on Sunday too.