Tag Archives: balance

This Super Simple Tool Will Help You Calm Down and Get Balanced — Instantly!

You wake up in the morning to realize your alarm didn’t go off.  Rushing to get ready in the morning, you run up to your car only to dump your coffee on the ground. To make matters worse, you then find yourself stuck in traffic longer than usual due to an accident. 

When our lives are this chaotic and busy, it’s easily to get super stressed out and feel completely out of balance.

But I have great news…

Despite these outer circumstances, you don’t have to feel this way!

It is possible to live a joyful, fulfilling, miraculous life where you can feel calm, balanced, and peaceful.

And the secret doesn’t come in the form of some magic pill.  Despite how much the pharmaceutical companies and medical industry may want us to believe, it certainly doesn’t come from taking Xanax, Prozac, or Klonopin. 

In fact, it’s much easier, sustainable, and a heck of a lot more cost effective than taking a pill.

Want to know this super simple tool?

Breathing — yep, you read that right!  It’s breathing.

How the heck is that going to do anything? I can hear you say.

Well, allow me to explain.

Often when we get stressed and overwhelmed we tend to either breath improperly, hold our breath, or stop breathing entirely.  We start taking shallow breaths through our upper chest rather than through our diaphragm. 

This is a normal and natural response to stress.  When something stressful happens, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated.  Our heart rate than goes up, our muscles become tense, we breath improperly, and so on.  When we have this reaction, it is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response — so we’ve recognized we may be in danger, so we become activated to decide whether we should fight or flight.

Our fight or flight response is not a bad thing.  In fact, we need it for our survival in case we get into dangerous situations.  We needed it back in the day when we lived in the wild and needed to be concerned about getting attacked by bears, wolves, or whatever.

However, the problem in today’s modern world is that our fight or flight response becomes activated in situations where everything is, in fact, okay.  It may get activated due to simply being impatient with morning traffic.  It may get activated due to overly thinking about about financial issues.  It becomes an issue when we don’t just choose to either fight or flight and then let it go, but, rather, hold on to it.

When our sympathetic nervous system gets activated due to some trigger and we don’t just feel the experience and let it go, that’s when we can feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and drained.  When we’ve spent out entire day ready to either fight or flight, it takes a lot of energy and can get pretty darn exhausting.

This is why breathing is so incredibly important.  Through the power of our breath, we can easily get ourselves out of a fight or flight mode and back into a normal level of function where we can feel calm and relaxed, think clearly, and, ultimately, experience happiness.  This is why I teach some kind of breath work or meditation to all of my coaching clients — because it is pivotal to creating a solid foundation so we can create lives filled with happiness, joy, and love.

So how exactly can we use breath to calm ourselves down and get balanced?  Here’s a super easy breathing technique to use:

Sit up with your back straight and place your hand on your abdomen.  When you breath in through your nose, make sure that your abdomen is expanding outward.  When you exhale, your abdomen should contract towards your spine.

Now, breathe in for three counts, and then exhale for six counts.  Do this cycle of breath a few times.

If you want to go deeper into this, breathe in for four counts and then exhale for eight counts.  Do this cycle of breath anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes.

This is a great breathing exercise to do because it helps calm down our variable heart rate, which will lead us to feeling much more calm, relaxed, and balanced in our mind and body.

In some cases, particularly individuals who have experienced past trauma, doing any kind of breath work can be triggering.  Old emotions of sadness, anger, and fear may come up.  If this happens, it’s important to reach out to a local psychotherapist to get support and care in processing these emotions.

Otherwise, practice this breathing exercise at least once a day for 30 days.  This super simple tool can easily help you create a solid foundation in creating a life of peace, balance, happiness, and joy.

This breathing exercise is one of the meditations I give in my meditation album Ignite Love from Within.  To learn more about my meditation album, click here.  To grab a copy of my free meditation from the album called Healing Blocks to Love, click here.

Remember this: By connecting with our breath, we are able to find peace.

BreathPeace

Click to Tweet: By connecting with our breath, we are able to find peace. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

Do the breathing exercise that I shared in this article and, in the comments below, share with me what the experience was like for you.

5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

Another year is coming to an end and, with that, comes the annual hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Buying gifts.  Baking cookies.  Traveling.  Cooking dinners.  Mailing gifts.  Mailing Christmas cards.  Tying up loose ends before the year ends.  The list goes on and on.

Even though the Holiday season is marketed “to be jolly”, it can very easily become anything but jolly.  Stressful?  Sure.  Road range?  See it all the time.  Crazy shopping?  Totally!

The good news is that the holiday season doesn’t have to be so stressful and draining.  With a few little changes, it is possible to turn your exhausting holiday experience into one filled with joy and cheer — it just all boils down to how you take care of you.  Here are 5 ways to do that:

Set boundaries with others — and yourself.

You don’t have to do everything for everyone all the time.  Nor do you have to get everything done right here right now and not a day later.

The reality is that some of those things we are so urgent about getting done so quickly can, in fact, wait an extra day or two.  Just like some of the things you think you need to do for everyone else, could be easily taken care of by that same person or by asking someone else (who has some extra time) to do it for you.

So the key here is to set boundaries for yourself.  Ask yourself: Realistically, what can I get done today that won’t make me feel completely overwhelmed and stressed?

Anything that goes beyond those limits you’ve made for yourself you can do one or two things: 1.  Say no, or just don’t do it (like, seriously, are getting all of the Christmas cookies made this year really necessary if it’s going to make you freak out?) or 2. Ask someone to help you.

Give yourself a break.

When it’s colder outside and the days are shorter, it is only natural for us to want to stay inside, bundle up in some blankets, and just relax.  Be sure you give yourself time to do that.  Not only will it reduce your likelihood of getting sick and reduce stress, but in doing so you’re accepting what you body is being naturally drawn to.

So curl up in some blankets, have a cup of hot chocolate, watch some of your favorite movies and just enjoy!

Give yourself some gifts too!

Even though it’s only natural to think about all the gifts that you have to buy and give to others, don’t forget about another special person who deserves a gift from you: yourself!

So sign up for that massage you’ve been waiting for or spend an afternoon in a sauna or hot tub.  Maybe even get a manicure or pedicure.  Think of something that you’ve been longing to do and give that gift to yourself.  After all, with all that hard work you’ve been putting in this holiday season you totally deserve it!

Reflect on the past year — and your true desires!

When the days are shorter, it’s colder outside and the year is coming to an end, it is natural for us to go into a state of reflection over our past year.  The only problem, however, is that we may find ourselves so incredibly busy that we forget to sit down and really reflect.

So get out a journal and ask yourself the following questions about this past year: What events happened?  What was life changing?  What worked?  What didn’t work?  How did you grow?  What did you learn?

Once you have that done, then go ahead and look to the upcoming year.  How do you desire to feel during this new year?  What would you like to change?  In what areas of your life would you like to grow and become better?  Is there anything new that you’d like to try?

Trust that all that needs to get done will get done.

The single most important thing to remember is: Be easy on yourself.  Everything that needs to get done will get done in due time.  If you’re a little late or delayed with something, try not to stress about it.  We are all late on things and make mistakes sometimes, so don’t let it get you down.

Make that your mantra this holiday season: “Even if I don’t get everything done, I still love and accept myself.”

StillLoveAndAcceptMyself

Click to Tweet: Even if I don’t get everything done, I still love and accept myself. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

What do you feel that you most need to do this holiday season in order to take care of yourself?  Share it in the comments below!

4 Steps to Diffuse an Argument Before it Even Starts

A few weeks ago on a Friday evening I wasn’t feeling the greatest.  I was really busy, stressed, and, to top all that off, sick with a head cold.

That evening, my boyfriend and I had gone out to get some takeout.  During the trip I began sharing some of my recent thoughts and frustrations.  One thing led to another and pretty soon I found him getting angry and us nearly getting into a full-fledged argument.

The key here is that I said nearly got into an argument.  It was weird because we didn’t really end up actually arguing.  Him getting a bit angry was as far as things went.  In fact, things diffused so quickly that by the time we got home we were hugging and exchanging “I love yous”.

How did I do it?  Well here are steps to follow to help you diffuse any argument before it actually starts:

Step 1:  Remain calm.

Whenever the conversation starts to get a bit heated and different views and opinions are conflicting, we tend to get very angry.  As a result, we can end up saying things that we didn’t really want to say or saying things that we later regret. When this happens, we are caught up in our ego (aka our fear-based mind) rather than our true love-based selves.

When in this ego-driven mode of being, we can tend to really hurt other people and, most importantly, ourselves.  So one way to get out of our fixation on our ego is to get calm.  Bring your focus back to your body and to your breath.  Take deep breaths and check-in on how your feel in your body and overall being — both physically and emotionally.

Simply making the effort to get and be calm alone can be an incredibly powerful tool, as it prevents us from saying anything that we don’t really mean or anything that we will regret later on.

Step 2: Let go of need to be “right” or heard.

The second thing that we often do when we find ourselves getting into an argument is that we experience this strong need to be heard and to be “right”.  This need to be “right” is also an ego-driven response.

Though seems completely contradictory, the reality is that when we let go of the desire to be “right”, it gives us more strength and power.

So let go of any drive or desire to be heard or right in the argument and allow things to simply be as it is.  To simply let it be, is to choose love rather than fear.

Step 3: Listen.

Whenever there is some kind of conflict or problem, many of us start feeling like we need to say something in order to make things better.  However, I must say that the older and older I get the more I realize that the opposite is true.

Let me be clear: We don’t always need to verbally talk about things to “clear the air” and make things better.  Many times, all that needs to happen is for someone to really truly listen.  When someone is really truly heard and another person really truly listens, this is where true healing can actually take place.

ListeningTrueHealing

But Jen, whenever I do that I feel like a doormat! Oh trust me — I totally feel you there!  That was like the story of my life for several years, but here’s the thing: We will only feel like a doormat when our underlying motivation is fear rather than love.  We will never feel like a doormat whenever we are in a place of inner strength and love.

So if you ever do feel like a “doormat” then sit back and ask yourself: Am I calm?  Have I fully let go of a need to be “right”?  If not, then take the time to do so.

It is when we truly wish to serve that we come from a place of absolute inner strength and love.  It is in those moments when we have truly disengaged from our ego and have chosen love instead.

Step 4: Wait patiently.

Once you have made the conscious decision for yourself in the previous steps to choose love over fear, now the only thing left to do is wait.  Simply allow things to be and allow the other person to process whatever they need to process.

During this time continue to hold this space of love and strength for yourself.  Also, if you did happen to say some words that you regret in anyway, then you may feel that now is a good time to apologize.

Remember to be open and receptive.  Don’t necessarily expect an apology or a reconciliation right away, as that will take you out of a place of love and back into ego.  But simply remember to be open and ready to receive so that if it does happen naturally then you are ready to receive it.

Take action now!

Think of an argument that you have been in recently.  How have these steps may have changed the outcome?  Is there any step that you feel may be more difficult for you to do rather than the others?  How will you handle your next potential argument?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

How to Be Happy When Other People are Draining You

I’ve always been a pretty sensitive person.

I’m one of those people where if someone I’m living with comes home upset or stressed I’ll know it the second they walk in the door — even if I never even saw them.  If the people I’m coming to visit are upset or depressed, I will know the second I walk in the door.  If someone around me expressing their stress verbally (even if it’s not at all directed at me), my body feels all shaken and it’s very challenging for me to focus on any task.

To top that off, with some people I can find myself so incredibly in-touch with their being, that I’ve found myself describing and explaining their emotions and experience as if it is my own.  As a result, I’ve really puzzled some friends through the years doing this cause they just couldn’t understand how on earth I could know so much about this other person’s experience without the person even openly sharing it with me.

Needless to say, being so sensitive isn’t a very easy thing to deal with.  In order to cope, it’s been a process of really learning how to set boundaries and put forth the effort to really focus on my own thoughts, feelings, and overall experience.

That was the ultimate problem after all — I was so in touch with other people’s stuff that I had absolutely no idea what my stuff was.  I was constantly blending in and getting really in-tune with others in order to best accommodate and make things better for them.

In that regard, it really is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s a blessing to know what people need in order to help support them and grow.  However, it’s a curse in that, in doing so, it’s a challenge to ever really know what one needs and truly take care of yourself.

And so, in the last few years my primary focus has been to focus on establishing boundaries in relationships and focusing primarily on my own experience.

This has worked fairly well, but the problem has been that I have still found myself overwhelmed and uber sensitive.  In fact, in some ways, probably even more sensitive than before.  It was then that I realized:

We can’t find inner peace and be in-tune with ourselves when we are pushing ourselves to ignore everybody else’s energies.

We have to remember to acknowledge and recognize what we have picked up, then take action to help ourselves.

Whether we realize it or not, we are always being affected by the energies of those around us.  You know that cranky customer you dealt with at work the other day?  His crankiness affected you.  You know that lady who started arguing with you in the comments section on an article on the Huffington Post?  She affected your energy.  You know that family member that “dumped” all their problems on you the other day?  They affected your energy.

All of these energies I mentioned above are lower-level energies.  When we allow ourselves to really become attached to that lower-level energy, it can really drag us down.  It can make us stressed, grumpy, cranky and a little less pleasant when you’re standing in line at Starbucks.

On the flip side, there are higher-level energies as well.  Like that customer who gave you an extra big tip or that person on the street who gave you a big smile and genuinely said “I have a great day”.  If we let these energies in, it can lift us up and really brighten our day.  It can make us less stressed, irritated, and worried.

It’s important to check in with yourself every day in every moment and interaction in order to notice if the energy is lifting you up or dragging you down.  If it’s lifting you up, then fan-freaking-tastic!  However, if you notice that it’s dragging you down then it’s time to take some action to protect yourself.

The following are a few things that you can do to help protect yourself from other people’s low-energies:

Make the effort to be around more positive people.

Are you constantly around people that complain about life all the time?  Are you constantly around people who are aggravated, worried, or stressed out about something?  If so, then you may want to create a little bit of distance in order to take care of yourself and give yourself some time to replenish yourself with higher energy.  You may also want to reach out to new people or groups that are generally more uplifting and inspirational.  People that energize you and bring fun and joy into your life.

That being said, another thing to consider is the TV, movies, and music that you are watching.  Does anything that you watch or listen to feel a bit harsh?  Does it feel like it drains you rather than energizes you?  If it does, then you may want to stop watching to these shows or listening to that music.  I know for me, certain hip-hop and rap is definitely on my big “no-no” list, along with horror films (at this point) and even a number of action films.

Also ask yourself how online or smartphone games or activities affect you.  Personally, I even find myself being drained when playing games on my phone at times.  I definitely can’t do any Candy Crush or Words with Friends for any long period of time without it draining me.

Take time every day to connect to your inner power.

A wonderful meditation that you can do is to breath while visualizing white light coming down through the top of your head with each inhale and then exhaling out through your heart.  As you breath, the white light begins to create a bubble of protection around you that expands more and more.

Doing a meditation like this can help us get re-centered and heighten our own energy.  If you feel like you need to really protect yourself from other people’s “stuff”, then you may also want to visualize mirrors being added to the bubble around you.  This way, anything that someone expresses to you get shined right back at them.

Make the conscious effort to focus on the positive.

You can do this through positive affirmations (like saying statements like “I am powerful”, “I have all that I need with me right now” or “I am love”) or by simply just focusing on creating positive thoughts throughout our day.  So whenever a thought of “I don’t have enough money” comes up, exchange it with a thought of gratitude like “I have enough money to have a water supply, clothes and food”.  Looking for all the positive things and focusing on that can help raise our energy so then we are less affected by other people’s lower-energy “stuff”.

Express positivity!

This may be a bit challenging to do at first if you’re stressed out or down in the dumps, but simply just go about your day with the intention to make everyone’s day a bit brighter.  Compliment that lady with the neat necklace at the grocery store.  Smile brightly at the store clerk, ask them how they are doing, and wish them a pleasant day.  Be open to chatting with people in the elevator.  Find and be open to ways to help make everyone else’s day a bit brighter.  It’s really just the little things, but the more you do it, the more you raise your own energy as well as those you cross paths with.

These are just a few tips right now, but the list can just go on and on.  Ultimately remember this: The power of your experience lies with you.  The more you focus on raising your own energy, then the better it will be.  The less you will be affected by other people’s “not so great” stuff and the more you will create and attract more positive things into your life.

PowerOfExperience

Take action to raise your energy right now!

List, at the very least, 10 things that you are grateful for in your life right now.  Truthfully, we should all be able to list thousands but I’ll make it a bit easy for you today. 😉

10 Characteristics of a Vibrantly Healthy Relationship

We all desire a happy and fulfilling relationship.  You know, that partner who is our perfect half who can help bring out the best in us.

Unfortunately for many of us, we have been exposed to so many unhealthy and less-than-fulfilling relationships in our lives that we don’t know what a truly healthy relationship even looks and feels like.

Here are 10 characteristics of a vibrantly healthy relationship:

1.  Both partners know that they are responsible for their own individual happiness.

Many people unfortunately fall into the bad habit of believing and expecting that our partner is meant to be our source of all happiness, love and fulfillment in our lives.  However, in a truly vibrant and healthy relationship, neither partner expects the other to be the source of all their happiness in life.  Both people know and understand that they themselves are responsible for their own happiness and well-being.  They each know that they are there to support and help one another, but they both know that they are ultimately responsible for themselves.

HealthyRelationship

2.  Neither person is really trying to control or “fix” the other person.

If one person is more of a procrastinator while the other always gets their work done early, the other person isn’t going to try to “fix” them by pushing them to get their work done early in a healthy relationship. Both people respect one another’s differences.  One doesn’t try to force the other to change or be anything different then themselves.

The reality is that nobody wants to be changed or fixed — especially if it’s unsolicited!  If the person really truly wants to change, then they will ask for help on their own terms and in their own way.  Change isn’t going to happen through nagging or force.

3.  The relationship is balanced.

No one person has any more power over decisions made as a couple than the other.  Both people have an equal say and have equal control over decisions made and both equally respect each other as a different and unique human being.

Now, it may be that the decisions made are different for each person.  Such as, one person is more focused on interior decorations while the other is more focused on finances because it better highlights each person’s strengths.  But, aggregately, everything is 50-50.

4.  Conflicts are dealt with head-on and then dropped.

In a heathy relationship, conflicts aren’t a deal breaker.  Just because a conflict happens, it doesn’t signal that it’s time to just check out and move on to something else.  Rather, the conflict is seen as an opportunity to learn and grow.  Both sides openly share their feelings and views honestly and with respect.

Conflict is accepted as a natural part of life and any frustrations are dealt with early rather than repressed and brought back up time and time again.

5.  Feelings are shared honestly and openly.

Both people share their genuine feelings with one another freely.  Both partners respect and accept the other’s feelings.  Expressing one another’s true feelings aren’t repressed because both partners know that by not sharing them and that by not accepting the other person’s feelings it will cause conflicts later on.

6.  Each person makes the time to take care of themselves.

Both people in the relationship understand and know that self-care is an absolutely vital component for a healthy relationship.  They know that if they don’t take care of themselves and do things for themselves that they will be stressed, drained, and exhausted.  They know that when they don’t take care of themselves, they have little love to give to their partner.

7.  Both partners are willing to put the relationship before themselves.

In a healthy relationship, both partners are able and willing to consider their partner when making decisions.  They don’t just go off and plan a trip for themselves without discussing it with the other person.  They make room in their lives for the other person and are willing to work together as a unit.

8.  Both people understand and accept that they’re not going to agree on everything.

In a healthy relationship, both partners know that it is perfectly okay to agree to disagree.  They know that just because one partner has one viewpoint, it doesn’t mean that the other has to completely agree.  They know that having differences in opinion and beliefs doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

9.  They both truly value the relationship.

Both partners are loyal to one another and willing to work through conflicts together.  They both truly believe in the relationship and are committing to the lessons and growth that come while being together — despite the challenges that come up.

10.  They want to be together simply for the sake of being together.

For some of us, we can find ourselves staying in a relationship because we want some kind of security.  That can be emotional, physical, financial, or whatever.  In a truly healthy relationship both people want to be together because they genuinely want to be together for the sake of living a life with the other person.  Security isn’t a primary motivation to be in the relationship, as the motivation of genuine love runs so much deeper than the security that can be gained on a physical level.

Take action now!

Ask yourself: What characteristics on this list are you amazing at?  What characteristics could you use some work on?  Share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

How to Not Lose Yourself in a Relationship

If you’re like me, you very easily lose yourself in a relationship the second it really starts up.  You find yourself spending the majority entire time with the person your dating — and, even when you’re not together, you’re basically spending all of your free time thinking about the person.

Their interests, tastes, and activities somehow become the center of your universe.  You find yourself listening to their favorite music and watching all of their favorite movies.

Somehow, within the matter of a few weeks or months… sometimes even days… you’re world goes from your life focusing on your own work, doing activities that you enjoy, and hanging out with friends regularly to spending the majority of your time with your new guy.  Your friends seem to wonder if you disappeared off the face of the earth and you’ve seem to have completely forgotten what life was like to be single.

Many women struggle with this.  In fact, we are biologically hardwired to be dependent.  When we are falling in love, the part of the brain where critical thinking takes places shuts down.  We then also tend to get all hyper-empathetic with the person, just as a mother would with her baby.

It’s kind of a natural maternal-based instinct, though it can cause us a lot of imbalance and, ultimately, stress and problems in our relationships.

So what are some things that we can do to help prevent this from happening so we can feel like we have equally as much freedom in our relationships as the guy does and still feel happy and loved?  Here are some things to keep in mind:

Establish a routine for “me” time.

One thing that I find incredibly important is to make your own “me” time a routine so that it becomes a habit.  It can take a more conscious effort starting out (especially in the beginning of a new relationship when everything is so exciting and fresh).

Set a weekly schedule for yourself.  Make Thursdays your night out with your girlfriends.  Make Wednesdays a night out to take your painting class.  Set at least 2 days a week where you schedule things to simply just do things for you — and make sure that it has nothing to do with him.

lose yourself in a relationship

Take some space away from each other through the phone and social media.

You don’t have to be in touch with one another 24/7.  If he texts or calls you, you don’t need to always respond right away just as he doesn’t with you.  Create some space in the way you electronically communicate.

Voice Your Wants and Needs.

If you really don’t necessarily like one of his interests, it is okay to say so.  If you don’t want to go do an activity that he likes to do, it’s okay to not go.  You can try it out and given him the respect and support he needs with it, but remember that it’s not a bad thing to  not be completely on the same page with every single thing.

Same goes for your own beliefs and opinions — political, religious, or whatever.  It’s actually a good thing to not agree on everything!  And it’s not that one person ever has to be “right” or “wrong” but you can both agree to disagree, and still hold respect and love for one another.

Take time every day to regularly check in with yourself and ask “How am I feeling?”

For many women, when we’ve lost ourselves in a relationship we are completely disconnected from our own feelings because we are so incredibly focused on our love interest’s feelings.  So take the time throughout the day to really check in with how your feeling.  And — better yet — do it when you’re completely alone and having some “me” time.

And pay special attention if you have any anger built up inside, as that is an emotion that is commonly repressed in women who lose themselves in their relationships.

Be on the lookout for red flags.

If he always only wants to spend his time with you and only you, if he doesn’t like it when you go and “do your own thing”, or if he’s jealous that you’re going to go hang out with your girlfriends then it may be a sign that the guy your dating is a bit on the too needy side of things.  

If this comes up, you may want to drop in the idea of him having some of his own “me” time with friends or to do whatever.  Though, if it is a consistent issue where you feel like he doesn’t respect you having your own space, then it may be a sign to call it quits.

Take action now!

What are some things that you enjoy doing while single that you noticed you stop doing once you’re in a relationship?  Them down on a sheet of paper or in a journal.  Now find a way to do it!  Plan it, and write it in your calendar — if it’s not scheduled in your calendar, then it’s not happening, so be sure to actually write it down!  Share your personal realization in the comments below!

Why You May Be Feeling Drained & How to Stop it NOW

We have all felt emotionally and physically drained at some point in our lives.  Especially for us women, we can feel like we are giving too much and doing too much without getting nearly as much back in return.  At times, we can feel as if we’re almost running on empty.

Though men can certainly experience this as well, women can be more susceptible to it because it is not a part of our natural way of being.  The act of giving and doing is a reflection of more male energy — not female.

These concepts can be traced back into Chinese philosophy through the concepts of yang and yin.  Yang and yin are two opposed forces who are interconnected.  The two working together influence various outcomes.  When they work together in balanced and harmonic matter, we then feel better.

Yang is the more male energy.  It is active, doing, giving, fast, aggressive, focused, solid, structured, and, as I like to say, “on offense”.  There’s more “fight” then “flight”.  Yang also represents the sun, fire, and sky and the daytime.

Yin is the more female energy.  It is passive, receiving, soft, slow, reflective, resting, receptive, and, as I like to say, “on defense”.  There’s more “flight” then “fight”.  Yin also represents the moon, water, and earth and the nighttime.

Now, before I get any further I feel its necessary to point out that every one of us, regardless of gender, has both yang and yin aspects.  Every male has both yang and yin aspects just as every female has both yang and yin aspects. However, I do feel that our gender does play a role in which side we need to focus more on in order to feel in better balance, so we’re not so stressed and worn out.

In a quick reflection, its pretty easy to clearly realize that our modern day society is more dominated and supported by yang energy.  We are encouraged to always be giving, doing, and, basically, we working.

This is great — there’s nothing wrong with that because all this yang energy has given us wonderful things like electricity, universities, scientific progress, and modern technology.

However, this has led to a decrease in our yin energy being supported.  We don’t take the time to really rest, reflect, and do things to really nurture our mind, body, and spirit.  Because we don’t do these things, we then feel drained.  We feel if we have been giving more than what we have been receiving.

Fortunately, there a little subtle changes that we can make in our day to day lives that supports a more female/yin energy.  Here are some ways that you can start doing that RIGHT NOW:

Every morning, take a moment to check in with how you’re feeling.

The more male-energy way to be upon waking up in the morning and stick very closely to your schedule.  May also involve going over the goals set for the day.

The more female-energy, on the other hand, takes a moment to check in with one’s feelings and ask “How do I feel today?  What do I need?”  You may find that you then need to meditate for a few minutes or that a bowl of warm oatmeal with cinnamon is exactly what you need.

Journal or reflect regularly.

Reflecting it itself helps, but to write the thoughts down on paper is much more beneficial.  To write it out helps to avoid all the excess mental energy that we want to avoid.  I actually like to keep a small journal and pen in my purse so then whenever the need to reflect strikes, then I have exactly what I need.

Openly share how you’re feeling with others.

This is huge.  The more male-energy way of doing this is to internalize problems until you figure out a solution — we want to avoid doing that too much.  Instead, we want to openly share how we feel to others in order to gain support from others — and then provide an empathetic and safe space for others as well if they have supported you.  Simply, be sure to reach out and reach out regularly.

Stop and smell the roses.

Like, literally — if you find yourself passing by some flowers then stop and smell them.  If you find something that smells really good to you in a store, then allow yourself to really indulge in it and enjoy it.

That being said, also take the time to really indulge in any pleasant sounds — like the birds chirping outside your window in the morning.  Or to really allow yourself to enjoy the taste of your food when you eat.  Finding ways to receive so we can feel nurtured and replenished can be found in the little things that we can gain through out five senses.

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Nurture your inner feminine today!

Choose at least one of the things from this list and take the time to do it TODAY!  Then, in the comments below share how that experience was for you.

3 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself to Be a Healthy Caretaker

In several of my posts, I have discussed learning how to set boundaries in order to break our habits of being a people pleaser, caretaker, codependent, and “giver giver giver”.

Though establishing boundaries are essential in order to avoid feeling drained or overwhelmed by others, many of us caretakers (especially when we are first learning how to set boundaries) is to go overboard.  We often set too strict of boundaries, which, unfortunately, cuts ourselves off from truly expressing our real gifts in order to truly help others and the world.

The key, as I have stated previously, is balance.  We want to be mindful over taking care of ourselves while also being open and receptive to helping others in their time of needed.

However, this can be very tricky — especially when we are just starting out with this whole boundaries thing and we’re not too confident over what is okay and what it not.  We tend to fear falling into our old unhealthy caretaker patterns.

And so, this week I have included a video blog (or v-log) to share with you 3 essential questions that you need to be asking yourself in order to be a health caretaker.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the video!  Just in order to recap, here’s the 3 questions to remember:

1.  Do I feel like this person is expecting it from me?

Do I feel like there is a “pull” coming from them?  Is there a feeling as if they need you there in order to “survive”?  If so, it’s a sure sign to give a little as needed but set a boundary and take care of yourself!

2.  Am I feeling a need to control this other person or their situation?

In other words, am I not allowing them to process their grief or sadness by crying?  Am I trying to be a Ms. “Fix-it” for their situation?  Is there any feelings as if I am “proud of myself” for helping this person?  If so, then we may be crossing into the other person’s boundary space a bit and it’s time to back away, focus on our own self care, and trust and have faith that the other person will be okay.

3.  How am I feeling?

This is the ultimate question to remember!  If answering this is difficult, you may want to ask: How does my body feeling?  Am I depleted or tired?  Do I feel like I’m pushing or trying too hard?  If so, then it’s time to back away and focus on ourselves.

Or — do I feel genuinely fulfilled?  Often if we are giving from a place of true genuine love we will notice an opening up in our heart space.  We may feel some flutters and movement in our heart area.  We may feel more expanded or as if we are “shining” in a way.  This may not happen every time, but if we do feel it then it’s an absolute guarantee that we are actually giving from a true genuinely healthy and loving place!

Start giving more from a loving space!

Reflect on the last time that you really “gave” to someone.  It may have been something that someone asked you to do or something you willingly did.  How did it feel?  Did you feel fulfilled?  Did you feel an opening in your heart space?  Or did you feel like you were “pushing”?  Or did you feel like the other person was “pulling” on you?  As if they were depending on you?

Share your experience and/or realizations below!

3 Reasons Why Yoga Should Be a Part of Your Regular Self-Care Practice

Throughout my early 20s, I was practically a yoga-junkie. When I was going to school for my undergrad and I was working 36-38 hours a week, going to yoga class 3 times a week helped keep me sane and balanced. When I was student teaching, it was going to yoga that helped me not have too many emotional breakdowns.

When I wasn’t working, I went to yoga nearly every day – sometimes, admittedly, twice a day.

Despite being a yoga maniac for probably a good five years, my practice didn’t really sustain in the midst of my travels in East Asia. Just as I lost forgot much of my higher-level English vocabulary, I also lost my yoga-junkie self.

I’ve now just recently started really diving into my practice again. No “Oh maybe I’ll go once this week” kind of stuff, but like a really consistent practice to make it as part of my lifestyle again. After all, I’ve learned and gained quite a bit through yoga, so I think it deserves my attention again!

Now, as you may know, I’m not really one to give suggestions as if it’s a “one size fits all”. Realistically, we are all different. However, I do feel strongly inclined to say this one: Yoga is one of the best self-care practices you can do for yourself if you want to feel balanced in your mind, body, and spirit.

Of course, I don’t say this meaning that every teacher and every method will work for everyone, but rather that some type will. It can really transform your state of being and here’s why:

Yoga teaches you that you can always do more than what your mind thinks you can do.

That muscle will be complaining with that stretch and you’re mind will keep saying “No I can’t do it”, but then the magical thing happens: Somehow, you move farther.

This body-oriented lesson from yoga is a fantastic representation to for all the aspects in our life when we think we can’t go farther. Just when we think we can’t, we do. Yoga helps us to move forward with greater ease.

Yoga encourages you to release.

Let’s face it, we hold a lot of things in our body – mostly coming from toxins in our environment and old emotional baggage that we haven’t released. Though these types of things can certainly be released with regular exercise and movement, yoga is a bit unique because throughout the exercise you are focused completely on the breath and it involves a lot of stretching. This combination can really help us to really release what we need to and become realigned with our mind, body and spirit.

That all being said, in my experience, I have noticed (and I know this stems from the original yogis) that after yoga it is easier to meditate. The movement and motions help us to release all the extra “stuff” so we can know see things in a more peaceful light.

Stress relief.

Let’s face it, we are living in a society where most of us are in our minds going “go go go”. It’s hard for many of us to really sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment. Because yoga involves movement, it gives the mind something to get preoccupied about at first, but then once the end approaches it’s easier for the mind to just go “Thinking? Why think?”

Do you do yoga? What kind do you usually do? How do you think it helps you?

If you don’t do yoga, is there any reason why you haven’t? What kinds of mental blocks come up for you when you think about doing it?

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What Running Has Taught Me About Self-Care

 “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

This past week, I ran 7.5 miles. If you would’ve told me 6 months ago that I would be running over 7 miles a week I wouldn’t have believed you. I had tried this whole running thing many times before, but the truth is, I hardly made any real progress.

I haven’t ran a full mile straight in at least 3 years. And the last time I ran 2 or 3 miles straight was, well… never.

I’ve never considered myself a runner. I used to run in high school because that’s what I was told to do, though I never reached a point where I considered it to be fulfilling.

However, that has changed. Thanks a few apps I have been able to build up the endurance to not only run one mile, but over three.

The apps have taught me the benefits of approaching running with walk-run intervals. Even after completing my initial program set by the app, I have continued to run intervals a few times a week to help build speed. This is something that I had never done when running during middle school or high school. And, surprisingly, it worked 100 times better than the old method of simply just running and gradually adding on time.

One day I thought to myself, “So I became more efficient in my running by taking the time to both run and walk. Does this encourage efficiency in other areas of life as well?” For example, I thought that instead of trying to fit so many hours of productivity straight in hopes to be more efficient, what if I did some break intervals in my day to day life as well?”

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So I did – I stopped pushing myself to fit into such a strict schedule and started to listen to my feelings and what my body was telling me. If my body felt tired, I let myself sleep more. If I felt emotionally drained, I stayed in with a good book or watched a feel-good movie. If I randomly felt the need to go for a walk, I went for a walk. If I felt the need to push myself through the long stretch, then I pushed myself.

And you know what? Surprisingly, I have done more! And not only did I do more in terms of work, but my relationships improved because I focused more on my own feelings and self-care. I now feel so much happier and fulfilled overall.

The truth is, we are all out of balance. We are running around so much trying to be so productive and efficient that we’ve forgotten that rest and self-care is equally as important as action to experience true success and happiness. We’ve forgotten how to take care of ourselves and to be our own best friend.

Find little ways to take care of yourself every day by dancing to your favorite song, going for a walk every morning, or curling up in the evening with a good book. Strive to be aware of your feelings. If you feel drained, then take a quick break. If you feel like going for a run, then go for a run.

And if your mind comes in and says something like “I don’t have any time to rest! I have to get all this done,” then remember that the breaks are equally as important to our success. Just like in running, by taking time to walk and not just run we actually become more efficient. We do better because we have given ourselves little breaks, but have also taken the time to sprint when we feel the need to.

Just as we need both lightness and darkness in each of our days, we also need action and rest. Allow yourself to have those breaks. Take care of yourself. Seek balance. You’ll go farther.