The more time I spent in awareness of her energy, the more I began to see how freaked out she’s been. In that awareness, that meant that I’ve been propelled by an intense fear for a very long time.Read More
Some of my work with my clients focuses on building up a resilience to stressful situation and proactively using meditation to centre yourself before you begin your day. Some of my clients have asked what to do when you’re overcome with stress in the moment, because it’s not all “Om and Namastay”, you know? For example if you’re at work, or in a meeting, or maybe you’ve had an unpleasant exchange with someone and you feel anger rising. How can you regain control instead of letting it all spill out and wind up flipping everyone in a 5km radius off? (what? No, I’m totally not speaking from experience…)
Here’s the thing: YOU actually are responsible for your own response. For real. I know that this may seem untrue, especially when you feel that rush of emotion coming at and through you, and I am promising you that it’s true. Responsibility = Response-Ability, your ability to respond and choose that response.
I recognize that this may not be as easy as looking at the breakdown of a word and saying, oh, I get it and then having that change everything (but hey, maybe it might?), and so here are some simple steps to beginning to make a shift.
The first step is beginning to notice that you’re experiencing stress and recognize “your physiological signs of stress,”. Perhaps your heart begins to palpitate, your neck stiffens and you clench your jaw, your stomach clenches, or your palms sweat. It may also be the opposite and you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out. These are all the result of what’s happening inside your body. The minute you start to experience stress, your pulse races, your heart beats faster and hormones [including cortisol and adrenaline] are released and this compromises your immune system and your ability to experience relaxation. When you’re able to recognize the signs, instead of ignoring them or normalizing them, you can begin to take steps towards managing your reaction.
The breath brings you back to the present. Why does that matter? Much of that physiological response is actually from your mind either being triggered to past experiences that are similar to the one you’re in or it begins creating multiple scenarios of what might happen next, that’s what the mind does, but when it does this, it contracts your ability to stay in the present moment and expand into possibilities. The breath, a conscious, deep breath forces your entire nervous system to relax; when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.
Try deep belly-breathing from 3-10 times (or until you begin to feel a physiological shift); many of us get into the habit of breathing only through our chest, as we’re accustomed to the idea that our chest is where true breathing comes from. Too much chest breathing can cause us to feel breathless or anxious. Belly-breathing opens up the bottom portion of the lungs by expanding and contracting the diaphragm, allowing fresh oxygen to penetrate deep into the bottom of the lungs.
Walk Away/Change Your Environment
Depending on the situation, this may actually be step 2, or it might be a case of notice, breathe, walk away, breathe more. Removing yourself from the situation or trigger gives you space to choose your response instead of immediately reacting in the heat of the moment. If the stressor is caused by a situation with another person, consider saying something like, “I’m noticing that I may not be able to look at all the solutions to this right in the moment; I need about 15 minutes and then I’ll come back and discuss.” You can even say something like “I’m noticing that I’m feeling triggered right now and I need to step away and figure this out solo for a bit. I’ll circle back with you in an hour or so.”
If this isn’t possible, for example if you’re in a meeting, or on the phone, try moving your body somehow; back up your chair, uncross your arms or legs, roll your shoulders back - anything to create movement in your body and a sort of energetic space between you and the other party. Doing this in combination with deep breathing is ideal.
Begin To Practice This Sequence Wherever You Are
This sequence of “Notice, Breathe, Walk-Away/Change Environment” can work in many different scenarios and locations; traffic (I mean, don’t leave your car, but do the rolling shoulder thing), public transportation, busy grocery stores - Noticing and bringing that awareness into your being through breathing starts to become easier, the noticing becomes playful and like a muscle, one day you will start doing it with much more ease.
Be Patient With Yourself
This will likely be a new process for many of you so please be patient with yourselves. It might be a few scenarios of the noticing step, and you might find yourself noticing after the fact, and that’s OK. Stick with it. The results are totally worth it! Remember that you are not a victim of your responses, no matter how automatic they may seem, with some careful attention, you will see the choice point.
If this has been useful, I’d love to hear about instances where you are beginning to put this into practice. It may feel clunky at first, and you might begin to notice that those waves of emotion are far less intense.
As I prepare for a new month after yesterday’s full moon (Aroooooo!), I tend to go inwards in reflection; looking at where the last month has taken me, especially in October because that’s when my son’s birthday is. He is turning 20 this year, what?! I feel like October is a transformative month overall and this year it has been no exception.
As I come up on my first year anniversary of being solely self-employed (instead of having a plan B hanging around in case I failed), I look back with deep appreciation on the massive fear that pushed me through to create big changes and to transform how I show up in my day to day. Because I did experience fear, and insecurity, and self-judgement, and even panic.
The first and best thing I did was to acknowledge I was feeling all of these things out loud to a mentor of mine. I am really good at hiding these things, and somehow I was able to override that and recognize that if I wanted to truly uplevel how I was showing up for my own clients, I would need to do the work rather than keep stuffing it down. I hired two coaches, yup, not just one, but two. And I honestly couldn’t quite afford to, but I also knew I couldn’t afford not to because of how my inner dialogues was trying to sabotage my growth. You see, I can help my clients navigate these experiences quite skillfully (if I do say so myself), but I have my own inner blindspots that allow me to skip over the hard stuff, just like everyone else. I wanted to look at these blind spots, the darker parts that I didn’t want to acknowledge out loud, the parts that my mind expertly offers up to hold me back, keep me in the safe zone. But the safe zone wasn’t safe any longer, it was now the stagnant zone.
I was pushed further than I ever have been, and so much of it was uncomfortable, emotional, vulnerable. So much of me wanted to just stop because it felt too hard and overwhelming to let the gunk out. I looked at my failures, judgements and insecurities with a bright spotlight, feeling shame and weakness. I have not been very kind to myself. I have not offered myself very much compassion. I have not offered myself very much love.
As I deepened my learning, as I expanded my consciousness through the consistency of meditation, communication and the simple act of presence, I felt things shifting. I found the parts of me that are unwavering; my heart of service, my profound desire to be of service to all who enter my sphere. I began to recognize the deep power and strength I have in my core and more than anything, I want everyone to recognize that they have this same power. We are all powerful.
When I look up the definition of power, the ones that most resonate with what I’m trying to communicate are:
The ability to act or produce an effect
a source or means of supplying energy
The definition of powerful is to have great prestige and/or influence. Inner power relates more to your mind and inner spirit. And when I tap into these definitions, my sense is that feeling your inner power is really about a connection, an expansion to connection with that source (whatever that is for you) that supplies you with the energy to be you, wholly and fully.
For me, being powerful in myself means being connected to my truth, my vision, my confidence and my abilities. It means that I am willing to see the fear and move forward despite it. It reminds me that there is power in the softness and the reminder that there is absolutely no point in denying yourself love, ever. I finally understand why this quote is one of my all-time favourites.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love
I was worried about shining light into where the darkness was, and what I found is that what frightened me the most was how whole, complete and loved I am.
I write this to remind you that you are not broken, you don’t need to be fixed. Transformation, expansion is a path to a remembering who you were before you became layered in expectations, shame, disappointment and comparison. To deny yourself that level of power and freedom within yourself, now THAT is the real shame. When I work with you, it’s to help you peel those layers back, to go inwards - not to fix - but to help you reveal so that you can shine again, so you can stand tall and strong (no matter your height!) and feel connected to that part of you that continues to seek the spark that life is offering us.
A few blogs ago I wrote about recovering from burnout. In that blog I mentioned that I believe there is a spiritual aspect of burnout and that this occurs when we have starved our soul from what it yearns for, when we have become disconnected from ourSelves.
When I experienced burnout, I understand now that I was disconnected at many levels. I was in a failing marriage, my career was not going as planned and was incredibly unfulfilling, I hated my body, felt like a horrible mother and at the time, felt that I could fix everything if I simply gave more of myself. And so I did. I gave and gave and gave until depletion. I gave to everyone except the one person that needed it the most. MySelf. And so my Soul did what it could to get my attention and created a crumbling structure all around me until it broke.
When I moved into an apartment after separating, I had every other weekend to myself and for the first 6 months of being on my own; I used to spend that weekend busying myself as much as possible. I would clean, I would do groceries, rearrange things, walk around the city for hours, all to avoid spending time in stillness and giving attention to myself. When I did pause in stillness, unable to busy myself or give of myself to someone else, the tears would come and I would cry myself empty, until there was nothing left, until it was time for the kids to return home for the next two weeks. It took me 6 months to realize that all the busy-ness was all in an effort to avoid those moments of stillness and grief. I began to learn that you cannot make others happy and that you need to take responsibility for your own joy and fulfillment. I had ignored my needs for so long that I had become spiritually ill. I called it Soul Flu; fatigue at a Soulullar level.
My definition of soul flu means that you prefer to repress your emotions, your desires and ability to live life to its fullest, instead harming yourself by turning to self-denial. Full disclosure: that is still my default mode when I fall out of alignment but I can recognize it more easily now. I realize that the term “Alignment” is a little vague and so I think of it as discovering the essence of your being and the deepest values by which you live. Being connected to a higher source of intelligence or power, identifying with something greater than the material world or your small/mind-self.
Getting back into alignment is about feeding your soul, your authentic Self, allowing yourSelf to receive. This is a massive shift when you’ve been so outwardly focused; making sure that every single other person is taken care of before noticing that you need the same level of care. It’s also about releasing the need to dictate exactly how things will unfold for you, releasing the rigidity and control and allowing yourself to step into surrender. Surrender allows you to move more effortlessly towards what it is that calls you, what it is that your Self desires. For me, stepping into this receptivity has required me to soften, to move out of the more masculine, outwards get-it-all-done energy that I often find myself in when striving to make things happen!
Baby steps to allowing yourself to receive might look something like saying thank you when someone compliments you. Saying thank you when someone offers you a gift. Saying thank you when you have a moment of stillness. And I mean truly saying thank you, without argument or way to deflect the gift being offered. I observe people shut down receiving so often, like when out for lunch with a friend and the friend offers to pay and trying to deny it, being given a compliment and telling the giver of said compliment that they are wrong or deflecting it by complimenting them back immediately. This may be an oversimplified example, but this energy brings up a questioning of whether or not you deserve the gift and diminishes the power of the offering. It shuts the door you yearn to open for your Soul. When someone offers you a gift from an authentic space, breathe and allow it to permeate you, allow space for receiving. This is a small step toward bigger allowing.
Take a moment and check in with yourself; if you’ve experienced burnout, or suspect you might be burning out, you can look back at that previous post, and check in with yourself on the emotional spectrum.
Emotional signs of burnout include
Lack of interest in general activities
Feeling like you’re in a fog
Stepping into allowing means moving towards a more trusting space, which can be frightening, especially when boundaries have been weak. It means shifting your perception that it all rests upon your shoulders. It means letting go in a lot of ways. While that may seem frightening, it also means that you are making space for more freedom. Freedom in your relationships, in your day-to-day activities and in yourSelf. This letting go is another step towards balance and reconnection with who you truly are.
Ways to create the space of allowing include:
Time in Nature
High Quality Nutrition
Speaking kindly to yourself/monitoring your inner dialogue (would you say this or accept anyone saying this to your kids is a good check point)
Getting adequate sleep
Are you ready to begin allowing more freely?