Wednesday Words: Deviate Baby

crapsdiceroll It’s possible that life could get better by chance…it could happen, it sometimes does. But to paraphrase Jim Rohn, it’s more likely that life, your life, my life, will get better by change, not chance.

And, if you’re like me, the phrase “Get out of your comfort zone” feels a bit stale  (wise as this advice might be). Instead, think about the shift a small deviation can bring. Want something specific in your life to be different than it has been? Ask yourself, “What’s normal for me?” and then deviate.

Neuroscience tells us something fascinating about our brains; while one system craves routine and “normalcy,” the other thrives on variety and change. No wonder we strive to get into a groove and then before we know it that system becomes a numbing rut!

When I moved our entire household for the second time in four months, I couldn’t help but notice how essential it was to establish routines. You know, for those areas of life where going on automatic makes it possible to think about something beyond “Where’d I put the spoons?” At the same time,  it was delightful to see our stuff in new places and to register the absence of the usual. Fresh sights, sounds and smells made me more alert and I could be a smidge more present to my immediate surroundings.

You don’t have to move to experience small changes lthat remind you of your vitality.Tiny deviations, a new route to work, wearing your watch on the other wrist, saying “No” when you’d normally say “Yes,”  or, saying  “Yes,” when you’d habitually say, “No” can wake you up.  You shift perspective.  Loosened up and re-connected you just may feel emboldened to discover a different response to a persistent problem, or even go for that new form of exercise, eating habit, meditation practice, job, or who knows…

Invite some playfulness and creativity into this practice- nothing more needed than what you can already muster – and take a look at at what you can tweak this week. Post your ideas here!

Enjoy!

Judy

Sample Move Into Change Newsletter here.

Wednesday Words: Too Short For Shoulds

  • too short

Our inner score-keeper keeps track of how often and how well we live up to its demands. It’s favorite word is “should.”

  • I should exercise.
  • I should be nicer, kinder, more accepting.
  • I should eat healthier food.
  • I should read these types of books.
  • I should watch these types of movies.
  • I should be the kind of person who wants to read those books and sees those movies.
  • I should be more assertive, confident, proactive.
  • I should be grateful for what I have.
  • I should work harder, smarter, and more productively.
  • I should have better relationships with my family.
  • I should be more successful than I am.
  •  I’m not keeping score, should I?
  • I should obey the voice that tells me what I “should” do and then I’ll be…

When was the last time obeying a “should” truly gave you the sense of well-being you thought you’d get when you cajoled (coerced, convinced) yourself to do the thing you “should” do – which, let’s be honest – isn’t very often?

Never? Or, not for very long until exhaustion, apathy, resentment, rebellion, or avoidance show up. That’s because when we “should” ourselves we are aligning with only one part of ourselves. That part is prone to black and white thinking. Its solutions to our problems are usually pat prescriptions.

The “should” voice is likely an external judgment we internalized long ago and because it’s old, it lacks the nuance and flexibility of mature creative thinking (despite logical sounding adult vocabulary).

Have you noticed that when you succeed at doing  the “should,” you may experience momentary relief and then there’s a sense of hollowness. You feel empty because the “should” had no real meaning for moving your life forward now.  You may not even realize your predicament because, before you know it, more “shoulds” jump into the void.

Since it’s always asking you to keep up (because you lack whatever it’s telling you to do) keeping score can only lead to anxiety and more negative thoughts. Never enough…not good enough, if only I could get myself to do this I’d be a ___ person.

The trick is to recognize “shoulds” for what they are; only one part of many ways we talk to ourselves. No more true or right about us than any other part. We don’t have to believe it. When we are aligned with the score-keeper, when we see it as the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we do believe it and that’s where the struggle begins.

Clues that we’re aligned with the “should”:

  • Obviously, the word “should” as in, I should stop saying “should” – don’t fall for that one.
  • We get excited at the idea that finally, this time, we’ll be able to live up to the expectations.
  • We are feeling shame and this offers us the way out – but it doesn’t really protect us.
  • We don’t want to do it, whatever it is.
  • Or, we are avoiding or resisting the very thing we want to do.
  • We are worried that if we don’t listen something bad will happen, like we’ll become lazy, dishonest, a homicidal maniac, a bag lady, unlikeable, immoral, or unworthy.

We can’t banish “shoulds.”  We can learn to recognize when we’ve bought into the score-keeping attitudes. We can spend time watching our thinking so we can see that we’re more than those thoughts. We can sense in our bodies that we are more, much more than any set of rules.

We can tap into life, which is too short to waste on trying to appease the score-keeper.

Wednesday Words: One Way

one-way-sign copyIf this quote makes you stop for a second and ask yourself these questions, Where am I headed? In what direction do the actions I take today send me? Do I really want to go there? You aren’t alone.

While some people really like where they’re headed (and I say “Bravo” to you, whoever and wherever you are), you may be a person who never really thought about your life in this way. Perhaps you go to work at a job you don’t really like; it exhausts you and you go home drained, just to eat, sleep and …wash and repeat. Or you have the same issues with close relations or co-workers again and again. You may not realize that  daily actions become a direction and you’re headed in the direction of more of the same.

Accepting this is so doesn’t mean there’s no hope. The fact that you perpetuate a life you don’t really want isn’t an indication of your worth, or your ability to change. It only means you’ve been unaware that you’re enabling yourself to go where you don’t want to go.  That’s all.

So where do you want to go? How do you want be on the way there? What do you need to cultivate in yourself in order to get there?

Dissolving a Habit

If you like this kind of thing- tips and tools for self-coaching- you can sign up for the Move Into Change Newsletter here. Below is an example of one type of content you’ll get.

DISSOLVING A HABIT: 5 IDEAS FOR A PLAN

The sink in my new home is across from the stove to the right instead of beside me to the left, the way it was in my old place. No big deal, except each time I want the sink I turn to the left before I realize that it’s the other way.

This habit of turning to the left worked well in the old kitchen situation but doesn’t here. That’s the way it is with habits. They may have worked before but now, they don’t.

50shousewifeNo, not really me.:)

Habits exist so that we don’t have to think so much.

Imagine if we didn’t create habits. We’d be rethinking all things all the time. We’d be up in the middle of the night deciding which way to get to the bathroom, or thinking about how to form the letter “a” while trying to write our thoughts.

We’d be exhausted and still never get beyond inventing the wheel…or to the toilet in time.

Habits, a.k.a, patterns, put us on “automatic,” resulting in large parts of our lives being better. Easier.

We can thank our brains for this ability to be efficient.     Basal_Ganglia_and_Related_Structures.svg

The Basal Ganglia, is a big player in habit making.

Every habit we have serves a purpose, some way it made our life better at the time we made it, though that purpose may not be as simple, or obvious, as getting to the sink quickly with a hot pot of pasta.

So what to do when a pattern no longer helps us?

When the mindlessness of “automatic” makes it difficult to be as healthy, productive, creative, kind, or as loving as we desire it’s time for a change.

Luckily, our brilliant brains are adaptable too. Some patterns re-adjust or shift on their own, subconsciously, the same way they are made. I’m sure that I’ll soon have a new pattern in the kitchen and that cute little spin I do at the stove will disappear.

It’s trickier when a habit  doesn’t change on its own.

If it’s an old habit, chances are it’s not going to shift as easily as my kitchen example. At this point, dissolving a pattern requires coaxing its reasons for being out from the gray world of rote behavior into the brighter light of gentle inquisitiveness.

It requires mindfulness.

And a plan.

A plan unique to you.

I hope you’ll use the following 5 elements to craft such a plan. When I work with clients I use these very same elements. A recent client stopped smoking, another is exercising every day, and another is making different food choices. I quit biting my nails years ago by incorporating these elements into a plan.

  • Do things that help you learn about yourself and your body like journaling, meditation,  PauseAbilities,yoga, therapy, energy work.
 
  • Find ways to quiet the judging and shaming yourself for having this habit, or waiting too long or not moving fast enough or whatever way you shame or “should” yourself.
  •  Start learning about the needs you are meeting by maintaining this habit. There can be more than one current one, and older ones too.
  • A. Cut down slowly and intentionally. B. Introduce new behavior that meets the needs behind the habit.
  • Celebrate the small victories! They add up and keep momentum flowing.

All 5 elements are equally important to creating the type of plan that doesn’t emphasize outer or inner work, but integrates the two.If you like this, please share it. Responses, comments and questions are always welcome.

Judy

Wednesday Words

mind-controlWhat consumes your mind, controls your life.                                                                    – Elizabeth Gilbert

When you pause to observe the thoughts you are thinking, the feelings you’re feeling, which ones crowd you? Which ones lead immediately to an action? Did you notice you had a choice? If not, there’s wonderful work to do!

Care to explore ways to live your life with less reactivity – more joy, more balance, more freedom? You can find me at Move Into Change.

Please share, Thanks.

Meditation Monday: Day #15

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100 Breaths for 100 Days, that’s the commitment.

Updating you on what’s happened since last Monday.

General Observations from the Week: Grabbing and Grasping

  • I seem to need about the first 15 breaths to relax my body while maintaining an alert spine. I’ll show you how I do this below.
  • Mostly I just can’t tell the difference. between controlling each breath and merely counting.
  • I worry that I won’t have anything to write to you about- that I won’t remember the sensations and thoughts I experience. Like a hawk circling above a tasty meal, I hover looking to dive,  snatch, and keep one.   I never noticed this vigilance before.
  • When I grab an observation, it morphs into an image and before I know it I’ve followed a train of thought, one that tickles me (hello ego), and I see that I’ve left the breath. Again.
  • Thought I am not giving myself a hard time about getting distracted – this is already different than how it would have been a  few years ago – there’s a sense of p-p-ull-ling myself back to the breath that’s definitely tense.
  • Day 13 I meditate, but I take no notes.

What it was like today:

Cross-legged, I close my eyes. I find my sitz bones (the ones under your butt) on the floor. Then I tune into the right side of my body. I’m imagining it softening and widening beginning at my legs and moving up to my face. Then I repeat on the other side.

At first, this leads to pleasant sensations until my spine starts to droop. Next, I imagine the meeting place between the two sides of my body filled with flowing water. Now my spine is awake enough without too much muscular effort.

My breath has been coming and going more slowly and at 40 I really notice it. For the first time, I know that I’m watching at the same time that I’m watching. Is this  the “witness?”  The part of me that’s watching me breathe feels big and loving; that heart cracking sweetness of watching my babies sleep.

Oops, I’m gone again, lost in memory. My babies. I bring my attention back to my body. Where was I?

How’s it going for you? What have you noticed?

I think it’s  so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with me. There’s something even more  than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online.  I’m perfectly willing to go solo  but it would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching, Focusing, free stuff. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends.

Meditation Monday: Day #8

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100 Breaths for 100 Days, that’s the commitment.

After a whole week ( a whole week!) of sitting Mindfulness Meditation I’m playing  with how I’ll tell you about it. Here goes.

General Observations from the Week:

  • Chucked the cushion, it distracted me.
  • Had to decide where I’d put my hands . Right now I’m opting for in my lap with fingertips almost touching.
  • I avoided sitting on Day 5- but finally did it.
  • Avoided it again on Day 6 – this time didn’t do it.
  • Knowing I was going to tell you about not practicing actually helped me let myself off the hook, “it’s all part of the experiment,” and that led me to wondering if it I could try meditating right after yoga.
  • My mind wants to use mental images to help me bring my concentration to breathing. One day it’s seeing a train conductor playing the harmonica to calm a scared child on the train, and another day it’s finding the very center of my skull. When I sensed the middle of my skull, I felt my spine elongate. My eyes (even though they were closed) shifted in their sockets. Oddly, this made it easier to  breathe.

What it was like today:

Getting started felt like easing  instead of reminding. I attribute this to being super relaxed during Shivasana (Corpse Pose) at the end of yoga. I just sat up slowly and got to it. (Makes sense, Hatha Yoga was designed to get the body ready for meditation- and it makes sense too that I’d have to experience it to get it.)

At about 60 breaths there was a rush of heat (no, not a hot flash) and I welcome it. Then I’m feeling impatient. By 80 breaths I want to stay forever. And at 90 I feel a subtle circling deep in my ribcage. It kind of snakes up to my shoulders and neck as I watch it. Then I have a powerful urge to turn my head all the way to the left, and a voice inside asks, “Are you supposed to move during sitting meditation?”

Then I think, “I don’t know the answer to that, I  haven’t a clue what I’m doing. And since I don’t, it doesn’t matter what I choose right now.” It occurs to me that I can file away this urge for further investigation at a later time. I don’t have to act on it but I can if I want. Now, it seems right to just watch and stay still. Of course, I’ve lost count several times, and am only vaguely aware that I’m breathing at all. 99…100.

How’s it going for you?

Have you noticed that it’s so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with you? There’s something even more  than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online.  I’m perfectly willing to go solo on this, but it would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there info about coaching, Focusing, free stuff … go… and then go forth and tell your friends.