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A Note from Jen: A “Whole” Approach to 2020

A Note from Jen: A “Whole” Approach to 2020

I invite you to join me in this moment.

 

Right here.

Right now.

Breathing in and breathing out.

Breathing in and breathing out.

One more breath.

In and out. 

 

And, Hello! Welcome to February!  

 

2020 is the year of whole living at Mind Body Align. It’s an entire year of exploration and non-judgemental examination into each area of our lives. We will focus on different topics through our Coffee Talks, podcasts, blogs, and social community. Our intention is that each month’s focus will offer you the possibility of standing confidently in your best life.  Some of us may dive deep and others may hover near the surface, and it’s all ok. If you attended our most recent Coffee Talk I’m guessing that you have already put some thought into the topic of wholeness and what it means to you. If the concept is new, I invite you to read Annamarie’s blog post to begin your journey. 

What does a “whole life” look like? Creating a life that is whole and fulfilling does not mean perfection. It is not tied to euphoric happiness. It is an underlying feeling of contentment and acceptance. Mindfulness is an awareness and acceptance of what is. 

In going through the exercise of examining the whole of your world, there is no expectation or implied striving for balance.  Personally, I have never found my life to be in balance. This used to create a lot of mental suffering, guilt, and self-recrimination. Practicing mindfulness has alleviated these feelings and my hope is that you will find transformation through mindfulness as well. 

 

Take the first step.

 

January’s 10,000 Step Challenge may have been that first step for you.  We had an amazing amount of engagement in the community. It has been fabulous to see people moving, connecting, encouraging each other, and forming new friendships through this challenge. I can’t wait to announce the grand prizes and meet everyone in person at our meetup at Phoenix Brewery on Thursday, February 6th between 5:30 & 7:00. P.S. Keep your eye out for some great content and ideas to keep the momentum from the group going!

Perhaps this year you need to focus energy on professional development. LunchWISE Wednesday kicked off the new year in January with the topic of Imposter Syndrome. It really seemed to resonate; I am still receiving emails and comments. We hear you and our planning team is reaching new heights to bring you inspired, relevant topics. Our February LW is featuring Holly Troupe, owner of The Boot Life.  Holly is going to talk to us about diversifying and succeeding in your market. If you have been looking for new ways to expand your business or side hustle you will want to check this event out! 

I also invite you to check out the events highlighted below, listen to the Second Sip podcast with life coach, Chris Stoner (it’s EPIC), and then meet up with us at the next Coffee Talk featuring accomplished leadership and executive coach, Cindy Biggs as we begin diving into perfectionism and what it means to be perfectly imperfect.

 

Have a wonderful month!

 

Jen

 

Ask A Yogi: Foot Pain During Balance Poses.

Ask A Yogi: Foot Pain During Balance Poses.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers!

 

Resident MBA Yogi, Amy Secrist, is available to answer questions, give insight and guidance, and help you feel great about your yoga practice. You can email your questions to Amy@mindbodyalign.com or message us on Facebook or Instagram  #AskAYogi  @MindBodyAlign 

 

Question: My feet hurt like crazy by the time I get to balancing poses.  Is this normal?

 

Amy:  Yes, it’s totally normal for your feet to feel sore after practicing standing poses

 

… especially if you’re new to yoga or just starting back up again after a break. The main reason for this is fatigue. Just like any other group of muscles, the feet get sore if we use them in a different way. For instance, when you start walking, jogging, running or training for an event, or when you add a new exercise to your lifting routine or CrossFit sequence, you definitely feel it the next day, right?  The feet respond a little quicker on the yoga mat mainly because, well, shoes. If we wear shoes more than we go barefoot, we’re not stretching or strengthening all the muscles of our feet; instead, the shoes are doing all the work of supporting our entire body while our feet stay cooped up.

When we shed our shoes and step on the yoga mat, we’re allowing our feet to stretch and strengthen, grasp and ground, root and reach.  Just one more reason yoga is awesome! For more on giving your feet some love, check out this article by Power Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher, Zainab Zakari, and keep on yoga-ing — your feet will thank you. 

You can also join Amy for practice at the Butterfly House on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30 am. Learn more here. 

 

 

Journey to New Perspectives: An Exploration of the Heart

Journey to New Perspectives: An Exploration of the Heart

Have you ever considered your “quality of life” from a whole-self perspective or considered the elements which create a happy and purposeful life? Possibly you have been gauging your personal success or failure against markers established by family, friends, or social networks. How do we know if our goals and resolutions are coming from our hearts, leading us to fulfillment, growth, and purpose, or if they are coming from habits or beliefs that no longer serve us?  What I intend to create with this conversation is the opportunity to explore our hearts for the truth. Let’s take time to take a journey to a new perspective. 

What would you see if you could remove from your awareness the habits, beliefs and unrequited dreams that keep you stuck? I mean really, who would you be and what would you know about yourself? Perhaps there is a way to actively move forward in creating your best life by subtly shifting your focus.

Let’s begin:  take an honest look at where you are now.

 

I have attached a Wheel of Wellbeing.  Where are you right now? Mark on this wheel from 0 to 10, 0 being no satisfaction and 10 being great satisfaction, in each category.  Please note, that there is no judgment that 0 is bad and 10 is good, it is simply an acknowledgment of what is happening in your life at this moment.  It’s important to note that each season of our life requires sacrifice. My hope is that you will approach this exercise with self-compassion. And, please read Mary’s recent blog for an amazing perspective and understanding of the seasons and sacrifices of life.

 

Next: create attainable goals using things that bring us joy.

 

Start with colored pens, (4 sheets) paper or chalkboard and colored chalks (I use lots of colors to make it visually fun). Sit quietly in contemplation or listen to your favorite “feel good” music. Write everything you love about yourself. “I love my nose, toes, ability to relate to people, health, strong voice, etc.” Remember to focus on things you love about yourself; listing things related to your mind, body, and spirit.

On another sheet of paper or a different section of the chalkboard, note everything that you love about your life. “I love my spouse, children, time that I have to read, time and money that I have to travel, that people trust me, etc.” The key to being authentic in this list is that you feel love as you recall these people and life experiences.

On the third sheet of paper or area of the chalkboard, select one person you love – again, allow yourself to feel love as you recall this person – and list everything you love about them. 

Now, you have three different lists: love of self, love of life, love of an individual. Put the elements of this list into categories that coincide with the 8 categories in the wheel of wellbeing: personal relationship, love relationships, personal growth, leisure and play, environment, life purpose, physical health, and financial health.  Feel free to add or change the title of a category as it suits you. 

 

Just one thing more.

 

Finally, based on what already brings you love and satisfaction in each category, ask yourself this question. What is one thing I can do that will bring even more love to this area of my life? Just one thing.

Now, here is a crucial part. This “one thing,” the one action you can create to bring even more love, must come from the heart or gut-brain and not the brain in our head. Our thinking mind will look first to what it doesn’t want and where you “aren’t good enough,” and second, to provide an answer for “improvement.” Are you with me? For this exercise to be authentic, you will want to allow the answer to unfold; to arrive in your mind while being immersed in the sense of loving and being loved. You will know the best action when the contemplation of it brings you joy.

 

So, let’s review.

 

What is one thing you can do to enhance what you already love about the 8 categories in the wheel of wellbeing: personal relationship, love relationship, personal growth, leisure and play, environment, life purpose, physical health, and financial health.

So much of who we are at this moment is a collection of habits and beliefs gathered throughout the years and decades of our life. Real growth doesn’t have to be difficult, and living your best life can be achieved by shifting your focus, and actively moving forward toward fulfillment.

Are you willing to take a journey to discover yourself anew? I look forward to hearing about your experience.

The Road to Wholeness is Bumpy.

The Road to Wholeness is Bumpy.

I’m Too Busy For This   

 

We live in a busy world that values busy culture. I’m busy. You’re busy. Every day I think of all the things I should be doing, could be doing, and not to mention all the things I forgot to do. My dive into “busyness” really took a turn when I became a mother. By the time this happened for me, I was well into my career. I knew I wanted to continue on this path so going back to work right away was a no-brainer for me. But I quickly found out that as much as I could balance my life on paper, it was much harder to actually do it. A statistic I recently saw said being a mother is the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs. So I have this BIG job, plus my career, and now… I’m left with no time or energy for me. My life went on like this for a while and, to no surprise, I lost sight of what it is that makes me happy. Of course my children and family make me happy. What I am talking about are the parts of myself that make up my personhood or my whole self. In the last year, I have made intentional efforts to understand my wholeness (or lack of it). It seems like a simple concept, and really it is, however, the crux of wholeness can be hard to fully understand. In my world, wholeness is comprised of my emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and occupational wellbeing. I am still searching for and learning about my whole self. Here are some things I have realized along the way. 

 

I’m not the same person I used to be.

 

When my “new normal” life as a working-mother felt manageable, I started to incorporate some of the things I used to love to do. Some of my old hobbies and habits like reading and discovering new music came right back and that was cool. Some of the things I used to love didn’t make sense for me anymore like leisurely drinks with friends after work or lofty craft projects. It took me a while to understand why certain things didn’t give me the same visceral response that they used to. It’s because I am not who I was. At first, I felt sadness, like I lost a part of me in the transition. However, I did not lose these parts of myself; I chose to leave them behind when I made major, life-changing decisions. I turned the chapter on my life and my inner person evolved. When I look back on the former version of myself with a grateful heart now  I see youth and ambition and I love that woman. I also love whoever it is that I am meant to become in the rest of this story and look forward to discovering what new hobbies make her happy. 

 

I’ve got time for calm.

 

Someone wise once told me that we all have the same amount of time, and it’s what we do with it that matters. This statement has become so important on my quest toward my whole self. I am a person that loves ideas. I have so many good ones, and I want to do them all. The new version of me needs TIME to be CALM. I need to carve out time where I can process my “busy” life. I need time to check-in with myself and make sure I am taking deep breaths. I need time to sleep. I never knew before how much I needed time to be still and calm. This means I have to say “No” to so many great ideas and plans. I do experience FOMO (fear of missing out) sometimes. But I am actually living in my JOMO (joy of missing out) and it turns out it makes me really happy. 

 

One moment does not define me. 

 

One thing you hear in mindfulness practice is to approach situations with a “beginner’s mind.” We actually say this at the Butterfly House on a weekly basis (it’s one of our core values!)  but it wasn’t until I saw it in my own life that it became clear to me. In the wake of my new role as a mother I also lost my job. I was certain that everyone could see the failure in my eyes. I actually believed I was a failure. This false perception of reality made me recoil from all the things that brought me joy because I believed I didn’t deserve to be happy.  This is where the beginner’s mind comes into play. Beginner’s mind is an approach to something as if you have no prior knowledge of it. In beginner’s mind, you have no existing bias towards the situation. When I look at my whole life with beginner’s mind I see that I am actually pretty great. This one moment in my story doesn’t define me. I’ve taken risks, and I am resilient. I am capable and I am evolving. Sometimes you have to step back and observe, without judgment or bias, to see the real picture clearly. I do deserve to be happy. Just because I have failed at something does not make me a failure.

 

It’s a bumpy and beautiful road

 

My path to wholeness is a bumpy road. It’s also beautiful. Even though I am nowhere near a perfectly balanced life, it feels good to just be aware that my whole self is alive and well.  Some days I spend a little more time on my emotional self. Some days I really dig into my spiritual self. Some days I just give my efforts to the part of my life that needs it the most at that moment. I make an effort to find time to reflect on my life, and I use a beginner’s mind to not cast (as much) judgment on myself. I found this easy exercise to help me gauge where I am in each area of my whole self (I’ve linked this exercise below so you can do it, too). During this exercise, you rank each area (emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and occupational) on a scale of 1 to 5 depending on how much joy you perceive. Once you’re done, a circle is formed that represents your wholeness. This exercise can help you find an area you want to focus on and make a start. Just know that your circle may never be perfectly round. Your circle, like mine, is probably a little lumpy…and that’s ok. 

Whole Self Circle Exercise

The Unexamined Life

The Unexamined Life

Many people talk about life as being in balance or, more commonly,  “out of balance”, and yet, I’m curious, how many of those same people have defined what balance is, or means, to them?  Have you? Are you happy, fulfilled, “living your best life?” Would you consider yourself successful, or “living a life of purpose?”  These are very popular questions in an age where more people than ever before have food, shelter, time, and money; enough of each to consider the finer points and purpose of life. And, whether acknowledged or not, the answers to these questions are likely fueling your goals and resolutions for 2020.   So, before you dive into creating your goals, resolutions, and intentions for the new year, I hope you will consider the following things I’ve learned about happiness, fulfillment, success, life purpose, and balance (aka “these states of being”).

  • These states of being are all subjective.  They are based on personal desires, interests, expectations, habits, beliefs, and each individual’s unique way of experiencing the world.  You may think this is obvious, and yet it is easy to forget this very important point when reading and learning from experts who are charismatic, articulate, and learned.  Always “check it at the door” as I say to my clients and students. Check everything the experts tell you (and I tell you) with your own heart and gut. You’ll know when a particular piece of advice is right for you by how you feel when you begin to incorporate it into your life.  If it doesn’t increase your joy or contribute to your sense of purpose, it probably isn’t right for you.

 

  • “Everyone walks their own Camino.”  This is a phrase spoken over and over again while hiking the Camino de Santiago; a 400 plus mile hike that my husband and I walked from France through Spain to Santiago de Compostela.  Another way of putting this is, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” a well-known quote by Teddy Roosevelt. Your best life can’t and won’t look like anyone else’s best life. In fact, your best life today is different than your best life yesterday and tomorrow. 

 

  • These states of being are dependent on whatever is happening in your world at any given moment. Your ability to manage the things life throws at you will change based on factors you CAN CONTROL (nutrition, exercise, sleep, mindset, self-talk, how you treat others, and your choices) and things you CAN’T CONTROL (past, future, weather, change, other people’s minds, other people’s happiness, and traffic).  One of the keys to finding joy and fulfillment is to invest your energy and time on things you can influence; make the effort to control the things you CAN CONTROL and let go of the things you can’t.  

 

  • I’m a big fan of the Peter Drucker quote, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” If you have never defined what a fulfilled, happy, successful, and balanced life is to you, how do you know how to navigate and when to recalibrate?  Use tools like vision boarding and Wheel of Life to create personal understanding and support you in living your best life. 

 

  • Gratitude!  Really, appreciate it, all of it – even the yucky stuff!  This is the essence of life. 

Socrates or Plato (both are credited) said, “The unexamined life is not worth living?”  I disagree. I do believe, however, that the examined life 1) makes it possible to understand your unique self, 2) provides you with information you need to set fulfilling and purposeful goals, 3) allows for compassion when life gets tough, 4) offers structure in order to recalibrate and learn, and 5) encourages gratitude and a joyful approach to everything life offers you.    One morning when I encountered an acquaintance on the street, I said, “Isn’t this a beautiful day to be alive?” His answer still resonates with me, “every day I wake up is a beautiful day to be alive.”  Welcome to one more beautiful day friends!!!   Sending you love and a great big new years hug!   Annamarie