Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Is Your Peace Dependent On Your Brain?

article credit ::here::
Yoga is a science. The more you practice and the more you study, the more this will ring true! Let’s first lay out the science of your brain to see how it directly impacts your perceived level of safety, daily ease of life, and your overall level of peace.

About Your Nervous System

The brain houses your nervous system, which is responsible for communicating to, and directing the function of, all other bodily organs. Some parts of the nervous system work consciously while others work unconsciously. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) works automatically, without your conscious effort – regulating the widening or narrowing of your blood vessels, heart rate, and your rate of breathing for example.

The ANS is divided in two, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). These two divisions have opposite effects on your organs but, work together to respond appropriately to life situations. The SNS prepares your body for short-term survival, while the PNS prepares your body for long-term survival.

Evaluate Your Stress Response

Let’s find out if your perceived level of safety, daily ease of life, and your overall level of peace are impacted by your brain! Take a moment now to recall a recent argument you've experienced and then answer these three questions:

1. Why did the argument begin?

2. Did you feel threatened?

3. Was this a life threatening situation? 

Understanding Your Stress Response

If you answered 'Yes" to the last question your brain and SNS are reacting as they should to real life-threatening situations. When the SNS detects danger – whether real or perceived – it immediately alerts the entire body to prepare for action: to increase your heart rate, widen your airways to make breathing easier, and release stored energy for greater strength.
Simultaneously the SNS alerts your other body processes - such as your digestion and urination - not needed for self-defense, to slow or shut down completely. This process is your body’s Stress Response protecting you for short-term survival.

For those of you who answered "No" to that last question, too often the brain perceives non-threatening situations as threatening situations leaving you in a chronic state of stress. The role of the PNS is to manage your response to daily activities, primarily by conserving and restoring - working to slow your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure and stimulate your digestive system. On the flip side, when your Stress Response is activated as it is in Stage 1 – whether real or perceived – the PNS provides additional resources to continue your fight for survival through Stage 2.

Inappropriate Activation of Your Stress Response

With the ever increasing pace and stress of life, often times your Stress Response is activated inappropriately – when there is no real threat or danger. The Stress Response is your survival mechanism, but when chronically activated inappropriately can wreak havoc on your body and level of peace. Long-term exposure to cortisol, which is produced with the activation of your Stress Response, impairs the healthy functioning of your endocrine, digestion and immune systems.

Re-Conditioning Your Brain with Yoga

Much of what activates your Stress Response is not a matter of life and death. So, the inappropriate activation of your Stress Response has been conditioned psychologically. The good news is, you can restore, and re-condition, your Stress Response to its inherent function! By practicing awareness, consciousness and mindfulness you can change your psychological patterns and re-condition your brain and SNS to only respond appropriately – when there is a real threat or danger.

Practices of reflection and mindfulness training will help you to create new patterns of response. The practice of iRest® Yoga Nidra, Pranayama and Meditation restore the body, mind, and senses back to their natural state of well-being by calming the nervous system and inducing the relaxation response. Transformation is a journey inward and with daily mindfulness practice, new healthy patterns will emerge, while old patterns fade!

Overall, the practice of Meditation, Yoga Nidra and Pranayama will help your brain to better manage stressful situations - ultimately, retraining your brain to only respond to real threats of danger ~ allowing you to live freely.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

7 Days to Mindful Eating

I'm so grateful to Mala Collective for giving me an opportunity to write this article about Mindful Eating, and more grateful that they're featuring my 7-day guide on the first day of their Mindful March Challenge.

As you’ve probably learned after a breakup, stressful day at work, family celebration, or a night out with
friends at a local restaurant, our relationships with food can be equally beneficial and damaging. After battles with eating disorders left me with horrible emotional scars, I learned a crucial lesson about my
own relationship with food: it had become “therapy”, not “fuel”. Striving to better myself and not wage a war with my body, I found fitness, developed a love of working out, and learned how to steady myself in this ongoing battle.
One resource, mindful eating, absolutely helps to create a personal and mindful relationship with your food. But it’s not something to flippantly jump into. You wouldn’t run a 10K endurance race without training for it, right? You’d build up to it! 

You can easily build up to mindful eating by following my 7 day training for mindful eating.
Start simple with “Day 1” and gradually add each new day to your routine.

Day 1: Prepare each meal with a consideration and focus specific towards your nutritional needs and goals.

Day 2: Wait for hunger. Learn to differentiate between hunger and boredom. Studies have shown that most people are truly thirsty when they think they’re hungry. Drink a large glass of water and, if after 20 minutes you’re still hungry, then eat.

Day 3: Begin each meal with some deep breaths and a pause to become fully present. Use your senses. Notice colors, smells, textures, and sounds.

Day 4: Before taking your first bite, take a moment to think about how grateful you are to have this delicious food available and use a food related mantra to maintain your mindfulness.

Day 5: Eat your meal sitting down at a table. Not in the car. Not in front of the TV. Not standing by the fridge. Not at your desk. Not with a book. Not with your tablet or smart phone. It’s just you and your food.

Day 6: Notice when you are about 80% full rather than 100% full and stop eating at that point. Trust, from experience, that with what you have eaten so far, you will be full shortly and if you continue, you'll move from satisfied to stuffed.

Day 7: Pay attention to the food you have eaten and notice how it affected your mood and your energy. If you don't like the way you feel, please do not reprimand yourself with negative self-talk, but rather note the feeling and remind yourself before eating that food again in the future. If you feel good, note that, too, and be grateful.
As you gradually follow each day, building on what you mastered the day before, you will create a beneficial relationship with food. Most importantly, you will have learned to enjoy your food and that food is “fuel”, not “therapy”.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mindful March Challenge with Mala Collective

Don't forget to sign up for the Mindful March Challenge with Mala Collective!  Receive free guided meditations & mindful tips and tricks from our ambassador's right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Mindful March Challenge now: http://eepurl.com/bfkMH1

Letting Go of Unwanted Emotional Patterns

Found this amazing article on Yogi Times and couldn't NOT share it!

letting go of unwanted emotional patterns
Photography by bryan sillorequez 

letting go of unwanted emotional patterns

Live Healthy | Personal Story 

reliving the origin of our emotional difficulties to let them go
For as long as I can remember - back to my kindergarten years in France, where I was born - I always have been an anxious person. I held within me a lot of fears, anxieties, and anger. A whole spectrum of negative emotions.

As a young child, I became skilled in hiding my anxiety behind work, good grades in school, and humor. But it expressed itself negatively through my body. I was dealing with eczema, asthma, anxiety attacks and angry outbursts at home.

I pursued a career in the restaurant business because I wanted to bring joy to people. I enjoyed a great deal of professional success. I spent most of my career in the USA, working for a major corporation. While everything seemed easy and smooth for me from the outside, inside I was still dealing with a great deal of anxiety and fears. Restaurants and hotels are like small worlds, or even small laboratories. For years, I was able to observe just how much emotional triggers rule our lives, whether at the tables with restaurant patrons or in the kitchen with my employees.

In my mid twenties, I decided to go on a personal quest to experience several kinds of body and mind techniques to get rid of my own anxieties, so I could better help my staff and the people around me. Although many of the modalities I experienced were powerful, most of them required a lot of effort, time and money, and the effects were temporary. It was a lifelong, ongoing process. That was not what I was looking for. I believe in work, but I also believe in definite, measurable results.

Most of our fears or emotional struggles are irrational. Sure, we can intellectually find a reason why we are the way we are, why we are reacting a certain way, such as: “I get angry in traffic, because people are driving like idiots!”, “I am lacking self-confidence because when I was a kid my parents did this or that…”, “I cannot have a normal relationship because my ex broke my heart 2 years ago”. We can find reasons why,  but this understanding does not bring healing. We still suffer.

After many years in the corporate world, I was feeling useless in the world. I was not really helping anyone. I was not feeling fulfilled. In 2009, I was ready to quit my job. Ok, but for what? That was when I found the work of a fellow French man, Luc Nicon.

This man claimed that once a person was able to identify an emotional difficulty (such as phobias, anxieties, stress, anger etc.), they could regulate it within 30 minutes when working with the approach he designed, called T.I.P.I. Of course, I was skeptical.

What really triggered my interest is that Luc Nicon was not a spiritual teacher, or even a therapist. He was a researcher and teacher with a solid reputation who was working with athletes and major companies. What was also very appealing about this work was the fact that anyone could learn this technique for themselves and be completely autonomous with it very quickly (in 3 hours.)

I read his book (TIPI, technique for the sensory identification of unconscious fears – “T.i.p.i, being a French acronym for “Technique d’Identification Sensorielle des Peurs Inconscientes”) that explained his research, and my interest in the process grew.

I contacted Luc to ask more information about it, and his answer was quite simple:

“I am not going to try to convince you, try the process on yourself. You can do so when you are triggered, when you are in an emotional difficulty.

When you feel an unpleasant emotion (stress for example)
Make sure you are in a “safe” place and that you won’t have to deal with anything or anyone.Pay attention to the physical sensations present in your body, let them evolve, without doing anything, without taking control, just stay a conscious observer of your physical sensations until you feel calm.

This process will last 2 or 3 minutes at most, but usually it will last 30 seconds. After that, the emotion you started your session with will be resolved, permanently. It will just not be a part of your life anymore”.

Hmmm, ok, it was a bit too simple, a bit disappointing actually. I did not think it would do anything thrilling, but I have tried things a lot crazier than this stuff before, so what the hell, I gave it a shot.

The next opportunity came quite fast: every week, I was extremely triggered when one specific coworker gave his comments during a weekly meeting. This Friday afternoon, as usual, when he started speaking, I felt a lot of anger coming up. Perfect! I excused myself, went to the bathroom, locked the door and tried Tipi:

  • I closed my eyes
  • I Paid attention to my physical sensations (my throat was tight and dry, my stomach twisted, and I was feeling abnormally hot)
  • I stayed with these sensations, without trying to change them, just staying present with them.
  • And they indeed evolved: what was tight became loose, my temperature rose even more, then went down, my stomach untwisted, and I felt that all my blood left me from my belly button and came flowing back with a pleasant warm feeling.
  • I just let all that happen without doing anything
  • Until I felt calm… I then opened my eyes.
I came back to the meeting, feeling a little tired but calm.

The interesting part is that the following week, at the same meeting, I was not triggered at all by this colleague. Intrigued, I repeated the process a few more times on different issues (road rage), and every time the emotional difficulty I worked on would not come back.

Something potent was happening, something that I did not understand but which was clearly working.  I decided to quit my 6 figure salary job and go back to France to study with Luc Nicon himself, with the idea to bring this work back to the US.

Interestingly, for me personally, as I cleared some of my emotional difficulties, such as my fears, all my physical symptoms such as eczema disappeared.

I asked Mr. Nicon to teach me to become a trainer, in order to bring Tipi to the US. He did, and it is now my pleasure to help people regulating their emotional difficulties.

So what happens during a Tipi session?

During a Tipi session with a specialist, the person works on one specific recurrent emotional difficulty.

The goal of a One-on-One Session is for people to experience a total and permanent resolution of the difficulty they selected to work on.

There is one requirement to every session: 
You must be able to clearly remember a real life moment that represents the emotional difficulty you want to resolve.

During a session, we are simply seated facing each other, and the person seeking help is guided through the steps for her/him to consciously connect to her/his sensory memory through the sensations present in the body after reliving a specific situation (“reliving” being a precise process).

Clients are 100% conscious during the whole session. They do not feel any emotional pain during the session, however they might experience uncomfortable physical sensations for few seconds.

When someone decides to work with a specialist on a recurrent emotional difficulty, no story is shared, the specialist is taking the person the way he/she is right now, with the actual current difficulty experienced today.

A session generally takes less than 30 minutes, and the effect of Tipi is immediate. In certain cases one more session may be necessary. A trained Tipi specialist can teach you how to be autonomous with the approach in 3 hours.

It is a fact that we all possess a natural ability to self-regulate our emotions. For example: after a car accident, or a relationship break up there may be a period of heightened emotions. It may seem like the experience will never end. Yet, eventually the emotional experience of the trauma naturally resolves itself. One day we find ourselves driving without a second thought, or deeply in love with another person.

However, for some of us, this natural ability may become blocked. For many individuals, this only becomes more difficult over time.

According to key neuroscience research studies, these blocks develop in response to particularly intense events or fears.

Tipi is a process in which one 'reconnects', physically (through physical sensations) to the original event that created such blocks.

This process re-establishes the natural self-regulation of these blocked emotions.

When we are “in” the emotion, the door to self emotional regulation is wide open.

One year ago, someone very close to me committed suicide. No one around her, including myself had any idea of her distress. Some of us are experts at hiding our pain. Most of the time these people just cannot ask for help, they do not want to talk about their stories. But I know for a fact that most of them are trying to find ways to get better. Putting the information about Tipi out there is so important for me. People who can’t ask for help can learn to do this work on themselves, by themselves. This organic tool is here for us to use.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mindful March Challenge with Mala Collective

Let's create space and become more mindful together! 

Join us March 15th-21st as we support you with mindful practices and tips, mindful eating, and FREE guided meditations. Plus, daily prizes! 

Sign up now! http://eepurl.com/bfkMH1

Friday, March 6, 2015

I Can Carry It - Part 2



On month till February, keep on holding on
And I know it sure, and I know it sure
On month till February, keep on holding on
And I know it sure, and I know it sure

And it's times like these, and it's things like these
And it's times like these, and it's days like
It's been a long time coming but I'm FALLING SHORT
It's been a long time coming but I'm FALLING SHORT

'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this

And it's times like these, and it's things like these
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this
And it's times like these, and it's days like
It's been a long time coming but I'm FALLING SHORT
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this
It's been a long time coming but I'm FALLING SHORT
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this
Not too far to carry this, not too far to carry this

Because you took something away from yourself
Come back to this world and take your heart to higher shelf
Heart to higher shelf
Not too far to carry this, 
Because you took something away from yourself
Come back to this world and take your heart to higher shelf
One month till February and this is how I feel
Because you took something away from yourself
Come back to this world and take your heart to higher shelf
One month till February
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this
'Cause you could say this is not too far to carry this

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I Can Carry It

As a teenager, on chilly mornings, I'd fill the bathroom sink with warm water, submerge my feet, and sit on the bathroom counter to apply my makeup and do my hair.  As the water would cool off, I'd drain it, refill, and keep getting ready.  It's a habit that I fell out of when I shared bathrooms in college and with roommates over the years.  Now that I live in a crappy old cold building with even crappier heating, I've become an even bigger fan of this process.

My bathroom, like my car, is my stage.  No, my hairbrush and shower head are not my microphone, but so many ballads have been sung while my feet are being warmed.  You'll never see me competing on a reality singing show.  You'll never even see me on a karaoke stage.  I might have graced several stages as a youth in singing groups.  I might have won a few singing competitions in college with a "band" that specialized in Shakira cover songs.  I might have even performed, once, at Disneyland.  But the only stages that I'm on now are when I dream of being a back-up singer.  My voice is anything but amazing.  In fact, I've recorded myself and trust me, I'm way better in my head than in real life.  But I can carry a tune.  And I love music.  I love what it teaches me.  I love how it makes me feel.  I sometimes hate what it makes me feel.  But mostly, I love it.

I usually start my day silencing the alarm on my phone after "snoozing" for way too long and finding a playlist on Spotify to start my day off.  Most days it's my "Stress Relief" playlist or my "Yoga" playlist.  On especially lethargic days, it's some "Top Hits" playlist full of stupid Kanye West, Rhianna, and other "musicians" I'm not a fan of.  It's also full of energy, so I put up with the musicians I don't like in order to wake up.  It's coffee for my ears.

Half the time I don't know who any of these musicians are.  I don't look at my phone to see what the track or artist is.  I just listen and go through the motions.  This morning, however, I should have looked because there was this one song that absolutely woke up my mind on a deeper level.  It was a triple shot of espresso to my ears.

The woman was singing about how it was only a month until February, blah, blah, blah, and then there was this line about how she could "carry it" for that long.  Who knows, maybe I had too much shower water still in my ears.  Maybe I got the lyrics all confused.  But that is what I heard.  It's what I needed to hear.

I immediately zoned out the rest of the song and started thinking about everything that I'm carrying right now.  We all have our proverbial crosses to carry.  We all have chips on our shoulders that we carry.  We all have burdens weighing on us.  We all have that last straw to break our backs.  We're all carrying something and we're all probably carrying it up a very steep hill.  That makes it seem all the more impossible to carry and we've probably said at least a time or two that we don't know how much longer we can carry it.

Then I started to think about a particular "it" that I'm carrying, how there seems to be no end in sight to when I get to stop carrying it up a hill, and how a few people have asked what I'll do when I keep carrying it into the future.  My mindfulness struck me.  There is no future in which I have to carry anything.  There is only right now.  I only have to carry "it" in this current moment.  And I can carry it.