I usually have a freak out just before I’m about to break new ground…

I never remember that when I’m in it.  It isn’t until after, when I’ve felt the shift and made some change that I realize what’s been going on. What makes the difference isn’t just having the freak out, if that were true I’d be someone quite different right now.   The trick seems to be knowing I’m in a freak out, and then using the tools I’ve learned over the years to find my way back. Even if it takes as few days to remember I even have them. Even if it takes days to notice I’m in a freak out.

Or a week. Like it did this time.  This one built for days and ended with me getting sick. Sick? I went through the whole winter, flu everywhere, and not even a sniffle. But this week, the week I’m putting myself out there about the Artful Insight Collage Workshop, learning how to use email marketing, writing the stuff (trying for engaging, clear, not annoying invitations), planning the class, buying materials, negotiating with Pound Ridge Recreation, telling business owners in town about the workshop, worrying about sign ups.  This on top of meeting with and corresponding with my beloved clients. Out there, out there, and more out there.

Did I forget to eat well? Check. Did I abandon Mediation? Check. Did I obsess? Yes. Were there some other factors in personal life that have me a bit ungrounded? Sure. Was I somewhat aware that I was pushing beyond healthy for me? Yes. Did I pay attention? Not really.

And then  “out of the blue” I get a raging fever and stomach yuck.  Hmmm…

So a big thank you to my body for the head’s up. And a ton of appreciation to myself for all the work I’ve done around self-compassion and permission; because as I crashed, I knew what had happened and I didn’t criticize myself for it. No shaming or demeaning myself for having acted out the over-work pattern again. The self-critical pattern  (at least in this instance) – kaput! And, I gave myself permission to rest – without guilt. Without worry, or admonishing myself for “wasting time.” Total permission to sleep, read, rinse and repeat.

Then the magic happened. The next day, I flew through hours of writing and planning with ease. On the other side of the freak out, the world looked brighter and new ideas were coming so fast I had to use my voice memo app. to keep up. The speed and flow felt entirely different than the hair-pulling of days before. This song kept playing in my head, so a little gift for you for fun, or freak-out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5qrwbkmlEk

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Meditation Monday Day #22: Do Not Disturb

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

General Observations from the Week:

  • Day 20 I noticed that I was keeping count without my fingers, how long have I been doing that?
  • When I’ve already begun to change a lifelong pattern (in this case one that involves trying to remain undisturbed by keeping things- thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations- both in and out) that the truer workings, subtleties, and intricacies of the way the pattern is woven throughout my life, emerge. Yow. See below.

What it was like today:

I’m sitting. My body is fairly relaxed. I want to get to a place where I can just watch my breath coming and going – in and out – in and out – but the more I want this, the more labored my breathing becomes. Then I ask myself, What if I practice just letting the exhale go? What if it disappears and I don’t care where it goes or how it gets out of me? It’s then that I notice I’ve been simultaneously containing the exhale as I conscientiously try to let it out. Constipated breathing.
Visible in my breathing pattern is the strategy that if nothing goes in and nothing goes out, I can remain blissfully undisturbed. A misguided idea of peace. Since I took the The Do Not Disturb sign off my door years ago, the next layer of dismantling my default mode is apparent here in my exhale.
There’s a shift. I feel creaking in my pelvis, like the way a foundation groans as it settles. I remember the mysterious snaps and bangs my childhood home…back to the breath. At about 80 breaths the exhale is flying free. As soon as I register a feeling of ease, I try to hold it – keep it. I notice this too, and a momentary taste of the present, a fleeting nano-second of calm amidst a busy inner world, is enough.

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.

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.

Meditation Monday: Day #1

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

If I’m going to stick with this meditation thing, it’s going to be important to stay in experimentation mode. The spirit of experimentation, containing qualities like curiosity, gentleness, non-judgement and detailed observation (and lots of notes) is what’s needed now. Because, already I can see myself getting tripped up by decisions; the kind of decisions I don’t really like, such as, Where will I meditate? When? What kind of meditation will I do?

I’ve read a bunch of “rules” for meditating. They say to pick a quiet spot (makes sense not to be easily interrupted), to meditate at the same time everyday preferably very early in the morning (not going to happen) and to pick a method and stick to it (hmm).

Right about now, I need a permission slip to not play by all the rules, and to trust that I can or at least will, at some point, discern which rules will support my practice and which will undermine this sweet little project of mine.

Decided: meditation in the bedroom, probably in the morning, with cushion. Sounds like a game of Clue. It is a game of Clue -looking for clues about my stuff and ways to practice interacting with it- meditation being one way.

Okay, phew, on to the menu of meditation choices. Below are a few you’ve probably heard of but don’t worry, I’m not going to describe them, you’ve got Google for that.

  • Mindfulness, Zazen, Metta, Heart Rhythm, Guided Visualization and Qigong Visualization.

I’m going with MIndfulness. I will observe my breaths and count them.  I sit and begin to breathe. I’m all over the place. I wonder if I’m breathing right. There’s a cacophony of body sensations and I lose count. I worry about getting through 100 breaths. It’s a struggle. Then I remember the one meditation class I took with my friend Theodore (hi, Theodore!) where we used finger-tip touch to keep count. Yes. This physical reminder helps. With thumb to fingertip at the completion of each breath I still lose count here and there, but I have a way to return.

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 did 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.

Meditation Monday: The Plan

 image002 100 Breaths for 100 Days,that’s the commitment.

I figure it would be deadly to take you through 100 actual days of meditation practice. So here’s the plan; I will journal everyday but check in with you only on Mondays (unless you have questions, and you can email me anytime- see below). That way, we’ll be able to reflect on a whole week.

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 did it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Leave a comment here or email me: judy@moveintochange.com

100 Breaths 100 Days- Ohm my goodness!

Most people celebrate the coming and going of the new year on Dec.31st. I’ve never really gotten in to it, though I’ve tried. It just doesn’t click for me. This year I decided to stop worrying that other people might think I’m a card carrying Wiccan cavorting naked in the woods, because I really want to say goodby to last year and hello to this one at the winter solstice. (By the way, if you are a Wiccan or anything else, and want to dance in your birthday suit to celebrate national Ice Cream Day, I say go for it.)

It’s just that a new cycle of going around the sun makes sense to me. It just does…so there.

I don’t know if  Dec.21, 2012 was different because the alternately dire and ecstatic Mayan prophesies made me pay extra attention, or if I’m just getting so much better at telling myself the truth, but I finally went with it.

So in lieu of New Year’s Resolutions (something I know works for a lot of people but not for me) I made a list of things that bring brightness to my life. On that list are also things I hope will bring more spark but I haven’t tried them yet, things I want to make sure I do more regularly, or stuff I want to make sure I do at all.

First on the list – meditate.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, there’s been a good deal of research lately, scientific, anecdotal, and non-traditional, about the benefits of meditation. Skip the next paragraph if you already know the effects of a meditation practice.

Meditation and other mindfulness practices help relieve chronic pain, bring greater levels of calm, and enhance clarity and focus. Meditation also lowers blood pressure and enhances the immune system. Meditators report greater connection to an inner sense of knowing, and can experience connection to a larger consciousness and a widening capacity for  compassion. Overtime too, they notice composure to act in considered and constructive ways and a more stable and balanced personality.

Not news to me either.

Yet, I hadn’t been able to sit and meditate since I first heard about it from Remember, Be Here Now in 1972 (yes, I’m that old).

So after, many many years of yoga asana, cranio-sacral sessions, and Focusing, I decided to start small. That’s the advice I give to clients and I took it.

Two minutes of sitting quietly. Once a week. Then three minutes. Twice a week. Soon at five minutes, I noticed that I wanted to do it more. I actually looked forward to it. Surprise!

That brings me to 100 Breaths 100 Days.

Breathing

   Breathing        Anne Lindberg*

I have made a commitment to myself (and now you’re a witness) to  meditate daily, sitting for 100 breaths for 100 days.

Want to join me in 100 Breaths 100 Days? I’ll be writing about my experiences on Meditation Monday, every – er – Monday! You can tell me about yours, or hang out and observe.

Or,

Talk to me…Tell me about a practice that matters to you or about something you want to make sure to include on your list of sparks. Do you have a list? What do you call it?

* at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art

Ask Judy #6 How are coaching and therapy different?

9 out of 10 potential clients ask this question. And cocktail party guests do too.

It’s an honest question.

Or, as my imaginary Nana used to say (or would if she existed),

“As long as you really want to know the answer, any question is honest.”

If you were a fly on the wall in coaching trainings and mentoring sessions you’d hear coaches offering perspectives on this very same topic. It comes up a lot.

Honest.

To my mind, the most important difference between coaching and traditional psychotherapy has to do with premises.

Therapists work from the premise that there’s something wrong with you, that it has a name, and a course of treatment.

More detail: psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and MSWs, are trained to identify and diagnose specific problems that can be found in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). They are looking for what’s wrong – for emotional wounds or as the title of the big book says, disorders.  The methods they use to help heal these wounds and to cope with the difficulties that arise from them depends on the school of thought in which they were trained (Gestalt, Freudian, Client Centered, Psycho-Dynamics, Cognitive Behavioral etc.).

Coaches work from a different premise.

You are already healthy. Ta-da.

You may be stuck and unhappy, frustrated and uncomfortable, AND you are capable of accessing what you need in order to move forward within a guiding process provided by the coach.

Life coaching is about moving forward into a better situation. The focus is on possibilities and future goals.

You’re a whole person (obviously). You have feelings, thoughts, sensations; a past, a future, and a now. All of these are present when you work with a coach.

While a good coach (that’s me) knows when it’s useful to look at the past and understands the value of emotion in all aspects of making change, we are not therapists.

9 out 10 people who ask me the question know what therapy is, or have an idea anyway, but are less clear about coaching. They want to be assured that we won’t be spending endless hours reliving their childhoods.

Consider yourself reassured.

Even more about the differences here. Or, leave a comment.