Your Inner Coach

By Guest Blogger: Anne Macaulay

As a spouse, parent, or dog owner, you may know the value of catching someone doing something right–noticing and reinforcing desired behavior right in the moment. “Thank-you” for making me dinner, “What a good puppy” for peeing outdoors, etc.

But, how often do you do the same for yourself?

When we’re trying to improve our health, we often focus on the end result: getting cholesterol numbers down or running a 5k. What if instead we focus on the process, the little decisions and steps taken throughout the day to support health goals? What if we support ourselves by really noticing, acknowledging, and becoming grateful to ourselves for these steps?

To give yourself timely, positive feedback, you first need to be aware of your inner dialogue. If this is new to you, journaling and meditation can build this awareness. If you are already conscious of how you talk to yourself, you can focus on catching yourself doing something right. Be sure to use phrases that feel authentic to you. Here are some examples: “Nice choice!” or “You’re on your way!”.

You, yourself, are the best person to provide reinforcement at just the right moment. This is a habit that can be learned. It will support all other habits—it’s a virtuous cycle!

Try starting out by spending a week listening to the inner coach while letting the inner critic know you’ve got this! It may be surprising how good it feels to give yourself that same warm, caring feedback that you give so generously to others. 

Way to go!

More about Anne Macaulay:

Anne Macaulay is an ADAPT Certified Functional Health Coach. Anne helps people sidelined by health challenges to get their lives back on track, one step at a time. She is an avid gardener, professional dog trainer, and hiker who uses functional medicine principles to live well with autoimmune disease. She lives in Franklin Park with her husband, Jeff and Vizsla, Cash. https://www.ongoodbehavior.com/coaching.html

Little Revelations

At age 20, I was given the feedback that I didn’t get my first internship because I was wearing sparkly brown nail polish. “Interview was great, but nail polish was unacceptable.” This was the feedback the interviewer gave the career counselor at my college.

Ever since then, my nails have been impeccably polished with “acceptable” colors. Thirty plus years of nail polish and a pandemic later, I’ve come to love my natural nails. I rub organic castor oil into them 1-2 times a week and that’s it.

It’s liberating. I feel like I’ve shed that stigma of the past. Loving yourself means your whole self and not cherry-picking certain things.

What is your little revelation? How are you loving your whole self? If you’re not, why not? This is worth some contemplation.

❤

Mindful Moment

“Too many of us move through our lives with our true selves

buried below layers of repressed emotion. With so much

energy channeled toward sustaining the repression,

there is little left over for the deeper questions.

The consequences of our evasion are profound.

Our stockpiles toxify into a cache of weapons

that turn inward against the self:

quick fix, long suffering.

As Rumi said, “Most people guard against the fire,

and so end up in it.”

This is the power of then. If we don’t deal with our stuff,

it deals with us.”

― Jeff Brown, Soulshaping: A Journey Of Self Creation

Effort versus ease

By Guest Blogger: Eva Montalvo

Sthira Sukham Asanam

We may think that ease (sukha) is better than effort, because it just sounds so, well EASY.  Yet without effort (sthira) there is no strength or stability.  On the other hand, we can overdo effort and feel as if we are straining and stressed.

In yoga we come into poses (asanam) that may be relaxing, and others that feel more strenuous.  Practicing Sthira and Sukha really isn’t an either/or, though.  It is balancing both at the same time

For example, even in a relaxing stretch like child’s pose we can find a steadiness in our breathing and thoughts.  In a stronger pose such as Warrior II, even while feeling the effort of the body’s muscles used to hold the pose, we can still look for a lightness and comfort by letting the shoulders relax down away from the ears and softening the muscles of the face.

Often, we can find ease or contentment simply by letting go of expectations – what we think “should” be – and simply acknowledging what IS.  We can feel the pose and use the breath as a guide to that sweet spot of harmony within.

As you step off your mat and into your life, can you find this same balance of effort and ease?  For example, even while performing a task such as preparing dinner, I find a sense of ease by putting on my favorite music and reflecting on the day with gratitude.  

More about our guest blogger:

Eva is the Owner/Founder of Nourish Yoga & Wellness. Her mission is to inspire adults to live more energetically and vibrantly by helping them incorporate simple changes in their lifestyle, especially in learning how to move and breathe to connect to their body through yoga. She believes strongly in making yoga available for EVERY BODY and specializes in working with beginners and older adults. To learn more click here: https://www.nourishyogawellness.com/

Advice From A Tree

by Ilan Shamir

Dear Friend,

Stand tall and proud.

Sink your roots deeply into the Earth.

Reflect the light of a greater source.

Think long term.

Go out on a limb.

Remember your place among all living beings.

Embrace with joy the changing seasons

for each yields its own abundance.

The energy and birth of Spring.

The growth and contentment of Summer.

The wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall.

The rest and quiet renewal of Winter.

Feel the wind and the sun

and delight in their presence.

Look up at the moon that shines down upon you

and the mystery of the stars at night.

Seek nourishment from the good things in life.

Simple pleasures

Earth, fresh air, light

Be content with your natural beauty.

Drink plenty of water.

Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes.

Be flexible.

Remember your roots.

Enjoy the view!

Should?

Just because you CAN do something, does it mean you should? I recently realized while practicing yoga, after years of thinking I can’t do Camel Pose (Ustrasana), I actually can. Imagine that! I felt accomplished, proud of myself. All from a discovery that if I widened the space between my knees, I’m able to bend back just a bit deeper and take hold of my ankles. Prior to this discovery, I’d been priming my back with other poses which created some space. So I was ready at that time for this epiphany.

Fast forward about 2-3 weeks and I decide to teach it in class. First I demonstrate the gentle version of it, which I really like. And then for those who want to try a fuller expression, I demonstrate. The next day, I noticed sensation in my mid-back. The only explanation is that I should have stayed with the gentle version knowing that when I teach, I have a harder time being mindful of myself, because I’m focused on students. I did not, in that moment, have the ability to discern my best course of action. The Sanskrit for the concept of discernment is Vivek. I’d been learning about Vivek in a weekly class through the Princeton University Hindu Life Program. I had discovered the perfect lesson in Vivek (the hard way).

How can we take this lesson into our every day lives? Discerning how much we want to take in. One more news segment? One more Netflix series? Reaching, striving. One more commitment on the calendar? Should? Should not? Pause, breathe, think, weigh, assess…

Read more here about Camel Pose: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/camel-pose

Clear the Path

It’s the time of the year for stuffiness, allergies, and blocked sinuses. There are many great methods to cleanse the nasal passages – saline sprays and gadgets galore! My favorite is very simple. It is one that a dear friend introduced me to years ago that I never thought I could use – a plastic netipot. Now, please do your research about the use of netipots. Learn how to use them properly. Learn how to clean them and what type of water to use. The best way to describe the feeling after using one is this: Image stepping outside on a snowy winter’s day and inhaling deeply (sorry, if you’re in a warm climate!).

Another practice I’ve come to love is the use of organic oil in my sinuses. Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) recommends using nasya oil, or putting oil drops in your nose. Here are some of the many benefits:
  • It’s balancing and calming.
  • It soothes and moisturizes dry sinuses.
  • It is said to improve the quality of your voice, strengthen your vision and prompt clarity. It helps to release tension in the head and mitigate the build up of stress.
  • Nasya promotes clear breathing and supports the flow of prana (life force).

You can find netipots and nasya in stores and online. It’s something worth experimenting with. Who nose?

Please note: As with any new practice or substance used in your body, please check with your medical professional to ensure there are no contraindications or issues with use.

Sharing a Beautiful Poem

~ By: Jeannette Encinias

Silver


“How many years of beauty do I have left?
she asks me.
How many more do you want?
Here. Here is 34. Here is 50.

When you are 80 years old
and your beauty rises in ways
your cells cannot even imagine now
and your wild bones grow luminous and
ripe, having carried the weight
of a passionate life.

When your hair is aflame
with winter
and you have decades of
learning and leaving and loving
sewn into
the corners of your eyes
and your children come home
to find their own history
in your face.

When you know what it feels like to fail
ferociously
and have gained the
capacity
to rise and rise and rise again.

When you can make your tea
on a quiet and ridiculously lonely afternoon
and still have a song in your heart
Queen owl wings beating
beneath the cotton of your sweater.

Because your beauty began there
beneath the sweater and the skin,
remember?

This is when I will take you
into my arms and coo
YOU BRAVE AND GLORIOUS THING
you’ve come so far.

I see you.
Your beauty is breathtaking.”

Pause

I don’t know about you, but speaking candidly, I’m having a hard time staying focused these days. Starting, stopping, starting again, maybe finishing, maybe not. I’ve accepted that this is my current state of mind. What I do find helpful in the midst of moving, but not actually going anywhere, is taking time to pause. Pausing to look at how beautiful the clouds are especially against the bright blue sky, pausing to feel the sun on my face, pausing to inhale the outdoor scents of blooming trees, bushes, and flowers, pausing to notice patterns in the stone tile in my house I’ve never noticed before and taking time to just be in that moment.

Each day I think about all the things in my life I am grateful for. I try not to focus on what I don’t have, but turn toward the abundance that I do have. What do you notice when you pause?

#thistooshallpass