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Body Image & Recovery

The Little Seed That Could: A Parable About Success


This year I am about to turn 50.

The way I see it, reaching the half-century mark is a pretty big deal. As such, it is perfectly appropriate to buy yourself lots of presents in the year when this type of big birthday arrives.

One of the big presents I have bought myself so far this year is a 7-week life and business coaching online course.

Honestly, I've never invested this much money in myself, ever, at one time, before this year. But I have made a lot of mistakes in my first 49 years of life and I'd really like to start out my 50th year on some good, solid ground.

Which means it's a darned good thing I started the course eight months before I turn 50. In hindsight, I should have enrolled around age 45. Or perhaps at birth.

My new life coach, Christine Kane, is a few chronological years older than me and about three lifetimes wiser. One of the very first lessons she gave us was about gardening.


Yoga Mentors

How Learning About Chakras Is Helping Me Heal My Gut Pain


The chakras - the seven main energy centers of the body - are not new news to me. I have heard about them, read about them, known about them for years.

But, being the often mental-centric being that I am, they have felt somewhat esoteric, even off-limits, to me.

Like, I can't "see" a chakra. I can't touch it. I can't open up Google Maps and get the directions.

(I mean, I think some people can see and touch chakras, like energy healers who can see auras or sense areas where energy may be concentrated or stuck. But I'm not those people.)

The closest thing I've ever felt to a chakra - until very recently, anyway - came when I was able to visit Sedona, Arizona, several years ago.

There are these places in Sedona - four of them in total - called "vortexes."

The vortexes are said to be areas of concentrated energy. Some are more masculine. Some are more feminine. Some are "combination" vortexes.

Some people don't believe any of this. Some people do believe. Speaking only for myself, I am not sure it matters, as long as (per the Visit Sedona website) you feel better after you visit than you did before you visited.

I did, by the way.

I felt very - nourished - by the beauty, the energy, the obvious devotion of the many visitors, the small human-made rock cairns here there and everywhere, the presence of the young couple posing for their wedding pictures in the nearby cool flowing stream, the serene meditating hikers basking in the sun, the surrounding red rock majesty.

It felt like being in a very concentrated sunbeam.


Body Image & Recovery

The 3Ms of Recovering from Anything


I don't know where I would be in life today without my meditation practice.

I have been meditating since I was 19 - so nearly three decades this year.

That is a lot of "om" time!

And not a second of it has been wasted.

When my mind has wandered, this has given me the opportunity to practice bringing it back. When my mind has grown quiet, this has given me a glimpse of the parts of me that dwell beneath its waves.

During turbulent, uncertain times in life, meditation has reminded me of the link between breath and body and intuition - spirit. During times of peace, meditation has reconnected me to gratitude.

I cannot imagine my daily life without it.

Many of the mentors I most admire share a lot in their work about the connection between attention and outcomes.

"Where attention goes, energy flows" is a phrase I hear frequently.

Meditation allows me to focus my attention on healing, recovering, evolving. When I do this - when I let my energy flow towards these goals - often new intuitive insights emerge.

This is one such insight.

But first let me preface it with a short explanation.

I have a lot of experience with recovering from things.

Recovering from anorexia and bulimia. Recovering from chronic cyclical depression and anxiety. Recovering from codependency. Recovering from low self-esteem. Recovering from loss and heartache. Recovering from thyroid disease. Most recently, recovering from the parting with my longtime love a year ago last month.

With so many recoveries (if you will) now under my belt, you would think I wouldn't feel so daunted when yet another new one pops up into view.

Ha.

So the other day in meditation, I was attempting to locate some common threads about what has worked for me in past recovery efforts to, well, expedite recovery-related things in the present.

And by focusing my attention in this way, all of a sudden I realized what tied them all together.

In each and all of these recovery journeys, I have used a process I now call the "3 M's:"


Mind, Senses & Silence

Coping With Reverse FOMO in Pandemic Times


Reverse FOMO.

I have it. Or at least, I am trying not to have it.

Or it has me. Or something like that.

What is reverse FOMO? You may have already guessed.

It is fear of missing out on things that (in theory at least) haven't even happened yet.

FOMO, by the way, is fear of missing out. Although you probably already know that part.

I've never had reverse FOMO before, which I have to assume is because I have never lived through a quarantine before.

This quarantine hasn't been going on for very long, either, but it is also uncertain how long it might continue.

And that is plenty enough uncertainty for my nervous mind to take and run with.

Remember those big goals you were working towards just before you learned what the term "coronavirus" means? Might as well forget 'em. Forget 'em all. Because it's never gonna happen.

Happily, I can usually out-reason my mind (or at least find a really great distraction for it) during the daytime when we are both awake. So it has taken to lying in wait until I fall asleep to present its predictions.

Then it uses my dreams to unfurl dire scenarios, or finds a creative way to wake me up (here, I suspect it is often in cahoots with my peanut-sized bladder) to share its fears and concerns with me, frequently in extra-scary and overly-dramatic stage whispers.....


Mind, Senses & Silence

The 3 P’s of Pandemic Life: Patience, Presence, Productivity


I don't know about you, but I've been surprised by how I've been handling pandemic life.

I thought I'd feel calmer.

I thought I'd do it, well, better.

But I'm not calmer and I'm not doing it better at all.

Instead, somehow my mind has been remarkably persistent thus far about trying to translate "stay at home" to mean "put my whole life on hold" and then convince me it is right.

And unfortunately, my mind never shies away from a good argument. It loves to argue! And debate! And get really worked up about things!

If I don't want to debate it during the day when we're both awake, it waits until I fall asleep and then wakes me right back up again. I call this the "debate sneak attack." If it times things just right, my mind can have me gridlocked in a heavyweight debate before I even realize I'm conscious.

Sigh.

But then in the mornings I get it back by meditating. If it interrupts my slumbers, it has to pay a toll. The toll is to suffer through my morning meditation, affirmations and prayers.

Ha.

Recently I've started - at least when I can remember to do this - using part of my morning meditation time to set an intention for my day. It really helps, although I'm not sure exactly why or how it helps as of yet.

Especially because most of the intentions I set aren't very glamorous. Here is an example: "get out of bed." See?

But some of my intentions have actually been pretty good lately, like the one that I set this morning.

Or rather, it kind of set itself inside of me - an intuitive intention, if you will. While I was meditating, I asked myself what I would most like to see happen today that would be really helpful and this is what popped into my awareness:

Patience. Presence. Productivity.

Good one, right?

So then I settled in to make my mind meditate on these three words and how they might fit into pandemic life and why I need them in my life today. And here is what I learned.


Animal & Nature Mentors

A Pandemic Promise: Welcome Back to the Food Chain of Life


We all learn about something called the "food chain" in biology class.

The way it is taught (or at least the way it was taught to me) is highly intellectual. More virtual-reality than reality-reality, even.

We see a diagram in a textbook of a guppy and then a frog and then a snake and then a fox and so forth and so on...all the way up to so-called apex predators like eagles and lions and sharks.

In all this, only rarely do we ever see a picture of ourselves.

If we are pictured at all, we are right up there at the tippy top, like the candle that is on top of the cake topper that is on top of the icing that is on top of the cake.

We get the message. No hungry predator is going to get us. Ever.

It feels....secure.

Like, oh look, how nice. See how nature works. Let's study it. Memorize the order that each species gets eaten in. Make an "A" on our next biology test.

We don't feel threatened....not even a little. It isn't intimidating. We might feel a little sorry for the frog on the paper diagram (but not as sorry as we feel for the frog sitting right in front of us on the lab table, belly side up, reeking of formaldehyde).

We aren't afraid for ourselves, is my point. Because the food chain is there for us to learn about them. It isn't for us to learn about us.

Until now.


Mind, Senses & Silence

Five Things Fear Hates: How to Fight Fear With Fear


I don't know about you, but right now I feel fearful a lot.

When I don't feel fearful, all I have to do is open up my inbox or browser window.

Most recently, I heard that a tiger at the New York Bronx zoo has come down with COVID19.

To be honest, nothing else I've read or heard about the virus to date made me as afraid as that.

This in spite of knowing that coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they can hop from animals to people and (apparently) back again.

Recently I was listening to a livestream by one of my favorite mentors. Not surprisingly, she was talking about this global fearfulness and how it is becoming a pandemic in its own right.

Then she said, "I am going to teach you how to fight fear by telling you to do all the things fear hates most."

Brilliant.

(Honestly, I feel compassion for my fear and for fearful-me. But I'm not excited about becoming fear's doormat either.)

So here goes. Here is a list of all the things fear itself fears the most so you can use them as needed in the days and weeks ahead.


Relationships

My Pandemic Pledges: Will You Join Me?


I will be honest.

I didn't think sheltering in place would be a challenge.

After all, I essentially already do this anyway. I work from home every day. I often have to consult my phone to remember what day it is. I shower because I love it, not because I have to.

The other day, after several consecutive days staying at home, I finally had to go to the bank. I had to go because it was my youngest nephew's fifth birthday and I needed cash to tuck into his birthday card like I do every year.

When I got to the bank, the line for the ATM stretched around the block. So I decided to go into the branch to get my cash. I explained that I needed multiples of $10. The stern-looking door monitor wearing gloves and wielding a large canister of hand sanitizer told me to stand behind the purple line until someone came out. When another person exited, I was directed to a particular ATM just inside the door that was set up to dispense five dollar bills.

This was definitely different than my normal routine. By the time I procured the cash and mailed my nephew's card, I felt completely worn out. And like I wanted to shower in hand sanitizer while wearing a mask, gloves and a HAZMAT suit.

Sheltering in place is definitely not my jam.

And truly, everybody is struggling, I know. How could we not be?


Relationships

5 Gifts to Give Yourself As You Shelter in Place


So many of us all around the world are sheltering in place right now.

As we do, we feel so hopeful. Perhaps a little skeptical, too. We want this to work!

But it is all highly irregular.

When I talk with my inner circle of dear ones, I am finding we all feel a little (or a lot) discombobulated.

"Free time!" screams our multi-tasking, mentalizing, must-stay-busy mind. "Productivity! You could get. everything. DONE. Write a book! Sort your closet! Change the world!"

Meanwhile, our subversive stomach whispers, "Hey, there are SNACKS in the pantry. CHIPS. Your favorite. And WINE. Chips and wine go great with Netflix."

Jeez.

Our body craves rest. Naps. The couch is dangerously close to the work-from-home area.

And our spirit....can we just say "dissociate?"

It really is exhausting.

I'll be honest. I expected myself to sail through this stay at home stuff with flying colors, gold stars, whatever, because, well, I already stay at home all the time. I work from home, after all. And after more than a decade of practice, setting my own hours, keeping my own schedule, budgeting my own time, it is usually all rather second nature by now.

But it isn't second nature right now. Because there is nothing at all usual about this. This is what I am learning. People are kind of, well, wigged out.

If you are anything like me, part of your mind is even now orbiting Mars (which of course is far far away from a certain virus that starts with "C") wondering how fast we can get there and colonize already. Another part is avidly consuming viral news, literally.

And still another part is busy beating yourself up for all those chips and the as yet undone to-do list - which is actually a handy distraction from worrying nonstop about elderly loved ones, inadequately washed produce and what effect last night's extended happy hour may or may not have had on overall immune system efficacy.

You may not be feeling anything like this. (But I suspect if that is the case, you likely aren't reading this blog post either.)

Are you feeling isolated? Afraid? Connected yet...not? We are all in this together, it is true. And yet, tucked in the backs of our minds is the unavoidable fact that, should we happen to test positive for COVID-19, all that togetherness will as quickly evaporate, replaced by a rapid-fire official investigation into how and where and who else and how long and how many.

In some ways, that part feels way worse than actually getting the disease.

Which is why I thought I would share some thoughts gleaned from some of my absolute favorite mentors about how to care for yourself during this shelter in place time.

You see, there are specific gifts you really deserve and need during times like these....five in particular. I list them here in no particular order - if you think of any I missed, please add them in the comments!

1. Time. 

You need it.

Your mind, your heart, your body, it is all processing a lot right now.

Reason being, a planet-wide pandemic.