Radical Acceptance: Can you do it?

No matter how healthy or wise or successful you become, you will never be immune to crappy things happening. You will get cut-off on the highway, have to deal with an inept co-worker, cope with illness, deal with grief, and have bad days. This is life. When you sign up for the good, you also have to deal with the less desirable. And in our lifetime, we will probably still see horror in the world. Maybe you have even experienced some of that horror personally.

Here is the deal: We have to accept this as is for right now. If you have experienced something in the past, there is no way possible that we can erase that. We also cannot solve the world problems over night. And there are times when dealing with a toxic relationship will feel as big as a world problem. It is when we are able to accept it as is, that we can actually move past it. We do not fall victim to it. We do not get wrapped up in the ‘why’ behind it. We say, “This is the problem at hand, and this is how we deal with it.”

I utilize the word radical because for many acceptance is such a struggle and with deep struggles we have to take drastic measures. We have to dive right in and get the work done with urgency. If we don’t then we can get so caught up in all of the negative emotions that drown us. But when we can put the emotions, thoughts, and worries aside, we can see that the situation is more manageable.

You might hate your job, wish to be in a relationship, wish to be out of a relationship, buried in debt, or faced with any of life’s struggles, However, you will not be able to change your position if you are unable to accept where you are, check in with yourself (remember the trust we talked about) and then make the best decision for you.

Can We Practice Non-Striving in a Go-Getter Society?

When we talk about mindfulness, there is a lot of talk about just being. Being in the moment. Not forcing anything. No push or pull of yourself- your thoughts, your emotions, or your body. A principle of non-striving.

Whoa! Non-striving? Well, anyone who isn’t striving surely will never compete in this fast-paced, go-getter society. They will squander. They will fail. Or will they? I am as guilty of a “what’s next” mentality as anyone (see my post on Patience). However, the non-striving mentality is what allows us to clear the mental rubbish and excel!

Mindfulness does not assume that you shouldn’t have goals. That you shouldn’t do better, try harder, or serve more. Principles of non-striving are to assume that we do not force any outcome and that we are able to flow with the process. As a therapist, I learned an important lesson when I placed my expectations on my clients as to where I thought that they should be in the process. I was pushing for a different outcome, striving for something that was not mine to strive for. I also see this happen with individuals who are creating a mindfulness practice. They are striving for an end result, seeking relaxation or enlightenment. What do you see as possible outcomes for these scenarios? A struggle between me and my client and a lack of relaxation. Ever become more anxious when you are having a restless sleep and the end result is less sleep and more anxiety? Yup! This is what I am talking about. When we can clear out our expectations of ourselves to achieve, then we can also take away the punishment that we put ourself through. When we stop that punishment, we can objectively see what kept us from achieving and move forward.

Not only can we practice non-striving in this go-getter society, but we will get there faster if we do!

Listen, Learn, and Trust

Trusting your intuition is one of life’s greatest skills. You are the expert of you. I, for instance, may have expertise in diet, exercise, behavior modification, mindfulness-based stress reduction, but I am not the expert of you.

Trust is the ability to give complete faith in yourself that you are knowledgable, capable, and good. It is the ability to operate by your value system, to do your best, and to forgive fallacy. It is yet another principle of mindfulness. To be fully connected to yourself, present with yourself, aware, so that you can do your best and thus, trust that you did.

Trust & Mindfulness

  • Trust your intuition
  • Trust the process
  • Trust your loved ones
  • Trust your body
  • Trust your mind
  • Trust your emotions

Celebration = Gratitude

101 Healthy Tools for Coping with Stress

Stress, disappointment, and negative emotions are inevitable. Sometimes coping is easy; other times it is more difficult. However, it is our job to cope. Our energy effects others, and it is our responsibility to monitor that energy.
Here are 101 ways to Cope:
  1. Bake cookies
  2. Eat two and give the rest away
  3. Go to a bookstore, read travel books, and fantasize of a faraway vacation
  4. Take a walk
  5. Call a friend that you enjoy talking to but haven’t heard from in awhile
  6. Breathe deeply
  7. Flirt with someone that deserves your attention
  8. Plan something, real or imaginary: a new career, a room in your dream home, your future children’s names
  9. Clean a room or closet in your house
  10. Volunteer your time
  11. Watch the sun rise
  12. Take a moment to smell your coffee before brewing and sipping
  13. Read something entertaining in a comfortable space: outside, a comfy chair, in bed
  14. Watch your favorite comedy
  15. Listen to upbeat music, preferably disco
  16. Write a stream of consciousness
  17. Find something that you are good at and that you enjoy doing. Become better at it.
  18. Play with pets: yours, a friend’s, or a shelter
  19. Look at old pictures, letters, or memorabilia
  20. Exercise mindfully
  21. Go on a date
  22. Shop. Buy something that you feel great in, whether it’s earrings, a stunning dress, or a great pair of yoga pants
  23. Enjoy a good glass of wine
  24. Get a makeover
  25. Play a game with friends
  26. Kiss
  27. Open the windows during a rainstorm
  28. Go to your favorite concert
  29. Surround yourself in snuggly material: your favorite sweats, a down blanket, fuzzy socks
  30. Start a blog
  31. Get a massage. Do it yourself or splurge. Massage your scalp with eucalyptus shampoo, or your feet with lavender creme
  32. Create something artistic
  33. Hit balls at a batting cage
  34. Get dressed up
  35. Drink herbal tea
  36. Try progressive muscle relaxation
  37. Run as hard as you can, even if for only for 30 seconds
  38. Take a scorchingly hot shower
  39. Meditate or pray
  40. Work in a garden
  41. Attend a community event
  42. Drink hot chocolate
  43. Watch videos of laughing babies on Youtube
  44. Take an ice bath
  45. Run as long as you can, even if at a slow jog
  46. Learn something new: a recipe, foreign language, how to knit
  47. Ask yourself how you feel; respond with advice that you would give your best friend
  48. Eat ice cream
  49. Go to a driving range
  50. Make love
  51. Go to a play or performance show
  52. Eat something decadent, slowly. Enjoy each bite.
  53. Do something unexpectedly nice for someone else
  54. Change a room in your home: Paint the walls, rearrange the furniture, refurbish a piece of furniture
  55. Scream loudly in a secluded space
  56. Take a dance class
  57. Go swimming
  58. Find something that makes you feel sexy: music, high heels, lipstick, lingerie
  59. Tell yourself that in this very moment you have everything that you need
  60. Give yourself permission to do something indulgent
  61. Forgive someone
  62. Appreciate something with age and history
  63. Explore new territory
  64. Go to an amusement park
  65. Stretch your body
  66. Sit at an outdoor cafe
  67. Do something that you never thought that you would
  68. Attend a marathon race as a spectator
  69. Hold a baby
  70. Initiate a girls’ night
  71. Sit in the warmth of the sun
  72. Join a group: AA, a book club, a rec league
  73. Consult with a health professional
  74. Read something inspirational
  75. Work on a puzzle
  76. Play like a child
  77. Go for a drive
  78. Attend a cultural event
  79. Gaze at the stars
  80. Remind yourself that you have gotten through worse before
  81. Sit next to a natural body of water: a stream, the ocean, a waterfall; listen mindfully
  82. Work towards a health goal like weight loss, a faster run time, or doing the splits
  83. Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Create a space in your mind that is peaceful and safe. Go there.
  84. Make a list of long and short term goals
  85. Take the first step towards your goals
  86. Pay off debt
  87. Find a non-profit or charity organization with a cause that you are passionate about; get involved
  88. Give your full attention to someone else
  89. Take a quiet bubble bath
  90. Make peace with your stress by finding gratitude for it
  91. Go fishing
  92. Go to a museum
  93. Visit new sites on the internet
  94. Put clean sheets on your bed
  95. Enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass
  96. Yoga
  97. Go on vacation or plan a staycation
  98. Sing your heart out
  99. Buy fresh flowers or a new plant for your home
  100. Go out to dinner
  101. Allow yourself to let go

Approach with a Beginner’s Mind

You know that feeling when you are pleasantly surprised? It might be when you return to a restaurant for an incredible meal after your first experience was a bust, maybe when you slugged into the gym and had the best workout in months, or the all-too-familiar scenario when one partner anticipates that the other hasn’t unloaded the dishwasher, yet again, walks in with a stink face but is greeted by a clean sink.  Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Can you foresee how some of our predetermined assumptions could have negatively impacted the outcome of our event. We quite possible could have missed out on something great or started something terrible because of our forlorn conclusions.

I remember the struggles that I experienced with this when I was actively practicing hot yoga. For anyone that has not taken a Bickram hot yoga class, I will preface with each class is more or less the same. You are taken through a similar series of poses while sweating your butt off. I would go to the class and have expectations about what was next and how I should “perform” it. I found myself more critical and frustrated with myself when I would have “off” days. I would tell myself that it was the same routine and that I should be constantly getting better, rather than cheerleading myself for being present, increasing my flexibility, strength, and stamina, or allowing myself the time for practice.

Approaching each situation with a Beginner’s Mind is another mindful principal. You are able to approach each situation with intrigue and without the wherewithal to prejudge. You open yourself up to new possibilities- possibilities that we can either enjoy or learn from. It’s almost like approaching each event like a child- curious, without judgment, open to possibility.

Next time you find yourself approaching a situation that you would typically find less than desirable, try reproaching with a Beginner’s Mind.

** For more information like this, please check out the upcoming workshop, Mindfulness in Daily Living, as well as aLeader coming soon.

He’s Not Perfect. You Aren’t Either

More real wellness, like this, to be shared in this month’s Wellness Challenge.

 

To Sleep Well in the New Year

I just read a study which stated that sleeping more was the third biggest New Year’s resolution. It is no doubt that millions of Americans are having issues with sleep and energy. We are working and worrying more and more. And there is a growing trend in unhealthy energy products that will shoot you up, but will also have a dramatic impact on your sleep, only further enhancing the cycle. Both of these have a resounding impact on good sleep health.

Studies demonstrate that the benefits of 8-10 hours of sleep per night could benefit cardiovascular health, weight management, healthy skin, prevent cancers, decrease mental illness, and lead to a healthier well-being.

So what is getting in the way of our sleep? No doubt that there are some extraneous variable out there, like having babies or rowdy neighbors. However, the most common forms of insomnia and sleep deprivation are obesity and anxiety. The good news is that both of these are very treatable! However, we have to make it a priority. We have to commit to follow the sleep rules and to putting ourselves FIRST. We have to commit to health and a long and fulfilling life. 

Here are five essential steps to good sleep hygiene:

  1. Stop caffeine consumption five hours prior to bed.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Eat a well-balanced diet. Do not starve yourself.
  4. Create a soothing bed-time routine.
  5. Incorporate sleep supplements, such as calcium, magnesium, and L-Arginine for optimal restoration.

Patience: My Self-admitted Biggest Weakness

I read once that patience was a form of wisdom. And then I became impatient with myself for not being more wise, not having more patience. When I began graduate school, I wanted to know everything about counseling. I have become frustrated with myself at the gym or in yoga when my performance wasn’t at a standard that I had set for myself.

I realized my lack of patience some years ago and have been trying hard to grow, but still struggle. My struggle with patience is not so much with the crying child, inefficient bank teller, or the person that cuts me off in the road. Oh, no. My patience is usually with myself and the eagerness for all of my cosmos to aline. It is for the grandiose to be achieved. And achieved NOW! Once I have set my sights on something, I must have it. Tolerating the process can be very uncomfortable to me. 

Practicing patience- patience with the crying child, patience with our learning curves, and patience with our emotions- will lead us to a greater sense of well-being. It is a lesson in Mindfulness. Reflect on your own areas of impatience. Can you see where impatience may interfere with the quality of your relationships? What about with your own aspirations? I think that when many of us think of someone that we admire, someone with wisdom and leadership, we notice their poise and ability to be patient. They are patient with individuals and patient with the process.

How would practicing this skill decrease stress, tension, and subsequent negative emotions in your life?

What Percentage of Fitness is Mental?

You hear it all of the time… Such and such (Insert high number here) percentage of working out is mental. I would say it all the time: If I can just get myself there, then I will be fine. I did some browsing to see what percentage people really attributed our fitness goals to our mentality. The results were high. Shockingly, high. Most were stated at 80-100%!! Wow! So let me review that- 80-100% of our success in reaching our fitness goals is our mentality? So less than 20% of our hindrance is due to ability? I suppose I would agree with that. We could rationalize probably any excuse in the world.

So why the heck are fitness professionals screaming at you, when that is NOT the way to change our behavior? Why are we constantly teaching methods of mindlessness if we need you to tap into your own head to be successful? Don’t get me wrong; these methods might work temporarily. But the changes will not be lasting.

I have been doing a bit of “market research”. In my research, I have encountered a ton of interesting concepts encouraging me to “check-out” of my workout in order to endure the pain. Hmmm. That doesn’t seem beneficial. It is in this mental check-out that we are more susceptible to injury. It is also here, where we will ignore just how amazing we are! I realize for many people they haven’t learned the difference between these two voices. They haven’t learned to trust their inner voice because someone else is always telling them that they are wrong. You are the professional of You. So, who should you be listening to? Who is going to hold the right answers?

The benefits of a regular mindful practice will teach you how to listen to and validate those voices in your head. It is here, that we are able to have the most satisfying workout. We know that we pushed ourselves; we are satisfied with our progress; and we feel uplifted by our own accomplishment. We trusted our most important trainer.

What percentage of your fitness is mental? Is it time to take the Wellness Challenge?