December 2006

This is part 2 for a previous post about reaching for a better-feeling thought and it combines a bunch of stuff including material from this book on Manifesting that I finally finished (yaye vacation!).

So to reiterate – to get the things that you want, you need to be in a good head-space, a good feeling-place or as the book says it, a high vibration.   When you’re there, you’re open to receive all the good stuff the Universe has for you.  It’s the Law of Attraction at work. So depending on where you’re at on the “I feel crummy” scale, some things will work better than others.  Try them out, here are ten to choose from: 

Smile – You’re in the car grouching about the red lights, the stoopid drivers, the lousy weather.  Try smiling.  It’s been shown to change your physiology for the better.  Try a big goofy grin.  Add a laugh (sure it’s a fake laugh but you need to start somewhere right?).  And if you feel like a dork, good.  Stop taking yourself so seriously.

Meditate - the Manifesting book says that sometimes we’re so good at having a parade of negative thoughts running through our head that the best thing to do is to try not to think.  Just doing that improves things immeasurably.  It’s funny, we talk about training our bodies, disciplining ourselves in all kinds of ways but not our minds.  Why is that when it’s usually our own thoughts that bring the most crazy into our lives?  So try sitting and breathing and letting those thoughts go.  Hard, but powerful and great practice for the times when the crazy-making starts.

Visualize – if you’re wrapped up in your own conundrums, try visualizing yourself in a better place.  Wherever you were on your last enjoyable holiday, your favorite beach or your Grandma’s kitchen.  See yourself there, take it in with all your senses.  When you get to a better feeling place, get up and move on. 

Eye Spy – This is a great one when you’re stuck in a car, doctor’s office, in a line-up and not happy about it.  Play Eye Spy with yourself and look for anything and *everything* that you appreciate or feel grateful for around you.  Traffic sucks?  Feel grateful that your car is comfortable and running great.  Feel grateful for the magazine that was issued during this calender year.  Feel appreciative of the color they chose for the wall in front of you.  Focus on the positive, all of it. 

Music – Play some music that speaks to your soul.  Feel cranky because you have nothing new?  Then try Pandora or pick a station like Classic Disco on AOL Radio and let it speak to your soul *and* your booty. 

Hug a pet – There’s been lots of research about how skin-to-skin contact lowers our blood pressure.  And how the unconditional love of pets helps our health and lowers stress. No pet?  Hug your neighbour’s.  I used to be predjudiced about that, like it needed to be furry animals, but you know, even running a finger down the scaly back of my lizard Jim makes me feel good.  He’s so mellow that it reminds me maybe I should try that more too.

Get Moving/Get Outside – There’s something about being cooped up inside and not moving that just makes us crazy.  But it’s so much a part of our culture that we don’t realize it.  It doesn’t need to be a “Work-out” or a serious “Yoga Session” although those are fabulous.  Try anything.  Get moving.  Get breathing.

Energy Clearing – Sometimes our bodies and our space get clogged up with dead energy.  So clear the clutter in your house or go get a reiki treatment for your body.  I was going through a stressful time recently and had a reiki session with Ann Perry, man, it felt like she scraped about 10 pounds of used motor oil off me. I felt great. Get the stuff cleared out so the energy in your life can move freely again.

Color – Sometimes we forget about the power of color.  Try wearing a color that makes you feel good.  Or change up the color in your house.  Or look at photos you love.  Change the wallpaper on your PC.  I usually switch to orange at this time of year.  Anything that brings a better feeling when you see it.

Find a Better Thought – Often when we have a conflict happening we turn it over and over in our minds.  We need something to snap ourselves out of our lousy mood.  If you’re mad at someone try to find anything slightly positive you can recognize about them.  Example – I can’t believe he did that, but maybe he had a reason I don’t understand.  Or maybe he was having a bad day.  Or doggonit at least he has good hair.  Anything.  Or swap out whatever nasty thing you’re repeating to yourself in your head for something better

It’s our jobs to feel good so that we can spread that goodness to others and make the world a better place, one interaction at a time.  Here’s hoping you’ll find something new to try for yourself next time.

Yoga Journal had an article recently about Pratyahara, or sense withdrawl.  Savasana is the best example of it and meditation is too – being motionless and withdrawing inwards.

I’m on vacation (yaye!) so I’ve been thinking about how to find that stillness off the mat too.  Yesterday I was on the couch, looking out the window and there were just a few small snowflakes slowly falling.  It was dead quiet around me. I let my mind empty.  I was being nothing more than the Snowflake Watcher.  My body felt dense and solid and calm like it does in Savasana.

Then I became conscious of what I was doing – so much for an empty mind.  But I had it there for a moment.  Just me and a few snowflakes :-)

Wherever you are in the world – may you find the stillness and calm of a meandering snowflake this season.

I love Fish pose, it’s just the best relaxed, end-of-session back-bend there is.  And it’s great combined with a variety of forward bends.  Try this flow holding each pose for 3-5 breaths:

Forward Bend – Seated, with legs straight, wiggle around to get your sit bones in contact with the mat.  Knees and toes should face up. Let your pelvis drop forward to find the stretch.  Hold onto your legs, feet or big toes working on lengthening your lower back, dropping your navel to your thighs. 

Fish – Tuck your hands under the edges of your hips, drop your elbows to the mat in line with your hands, press your chest up to the ceiling and let your head drop back.  I like having my elbows at a good angle here to amp the back bend and find the stretch across my chest and fronts of my shoulders.  If it feels uncomfortable for your neck though, tuck a pillow or block underneath your head.  Or slide your hands toward your feet a few inches so your head can rest on the floor.

To come back to sitting, bring your head back up, tuck your chin and supporting yourself with your hands behind you, curl back up.

Seated Twist – Bend your right leg and drop the foot over your left thigh onto the floor.  Tuck it in nice and close.  Sitting up tall,  hug the bent leg with your left arm and twist right.  Use your right hand on the floor to support your twist.  Let your navel slide along your thigh as you move deeper into the pose.  Pull your right shoulder back, keep neck relaxed.

Fish – Just like above.  The second time around see if you can get just a little more lift in your chest, squeeze your shoulder blades together gently.

Forward Bend with Twist  – Prepare like you did for the Forward Bend above, tilt your pelvis and then bring your left hand to the outside of your right leg.  Use it to move you into a twist to the right, extending your right arm up, opening your chest and pressing your right shoulder open.   Change sides.  Come back to center for another breath or two in Forward Bend.

Fish one more time if you like, or just roll down to a lying position for Bridge and other finishing poses.

I was half awake one a.m. a couple weekends ago and thought, we really should adopt a family for Christmas.  I’ve been so absorbed in my own drama and what better way to drag my attention off myself than by doing something for someone else?  I’d heard that our local food bank, Feed Nova Scotia, was matching families.  So while I might have acted on that thought, a couple hours later who do I see hanging out taking donations at the grocery story?  The Feed Nova Scotia folks.  I was told there are 8,000 families who’ve applied for help so I got off my duff and signed up.

They faxed me the sheet on our adopted family.  It included their first names, sizes and requests for each family member.  It included asks like formula for their baby, warm clothes for their toddler and new pajamas for Mom.  Can you imagine?  I think my life can be stressful, but really, what’s more stressful than not being able to just go to the store and pick up the food your baby needs? 

So we set a budget, went shopping and got wrapping.  I just dropped the boxes off at Purolator, they’re donating the delivery services for the program.  It was a nice looking mound of boxes, but it probably doesn’t meet the need of all the families that could use it.

But I’ve done what I can for now.  I wish Mike, Sarah and their babies a fabulous Christmas.  Thank-you for reminding me to be grateful for what I have instead of focusing on the things I’d like to change. My thoughts and best wishes are with you.

I’ve been reading a book on Manifesting, and while it’s not the most accessible read I got to a part that just blew me away.  First here’s some background from the book:

The Universe wants to give you what you desire and there’s plenty to go around.  But you aren’t connected to the stream of Wellbeing if you’re in a crappy mood.  If your emotions are in a lousy place you’re resisting and you’re not open to receive the good stuff.  If you’re in a good place then you’re open to accepting the good stuff that’s headed your way.  So when you’re in a lousy place your job is to find a way to get back to *something* better so that you can be open. 

I’ve been working on this lately and the part I have an issue with is when I’m drowning in despair how do I make the leap to happy?  When i’m in despair I’m lucky if I can leap to a healthy lunch choice.  When I’m in a lousy place I think – what buddha belly do i need to rub here to transform my “just wanna die” feeling to Bunnies and Kittens with a shot of Bliss?

The book says that you can’t think about it in terms of simply good vs. bad emotions.  That all the emotions have their place in a heirarchy.  So for example, we might feel like anger is bad and we shouldn’t feel mad at stuff.  We should just let it go and magically move to the Bunny and Kittens part.  But the book says that anger is valuable because it’s a step up from depression and despair.  Think about how totally useless and powerless you feel when you’re despairing.  You’re in total victim mode, you’re in a slump, you can’t move off the couch.  With anger you’re energized.  You’re not in victim-mode.  You’re acting against the stuff that bugs you or at least having a darn good rant.  So here’s the heirarchy of emotions they lay out.

Rage gives you a feeling of relief from depression, grief, despair, fear, guilt or powerlessness.

Revenge gives you a feeling of relief from rage.

Anger gives you a feeling of relief from revenge. 

Blame gives you a feeling of relief from anger.

Overwhelment gives you a feeling of relief from blame.

Irritation gives you a feeling of relief from overwhelment.

Pessimism gives you a feeling of relief from irritation.

Hopefulness gives you a feeling of relief from pessimism.

Optimism gives you a feeling of relief from hopefulness

Positive Expectation gives you a feeling of relief from Optimism

Joy gives you a felling of relief from positive expectation.

“Overwhelment” makes me chuckle.  I didn’t know it was a word but man, have I spent some serious time there.  I have a vacation home there.  Anyhow.  Our job is just to reach for a better-feeling thought.  A thought that will lead us to a better emotional state.  We’re not jumping straight to joy.  We’re simply plotting a path to hopefullness.  It’s a journey.  The bunnies will be there when we arrive.

Story 1 – A friend was telling me that she and her family were staying with some rellies – one of whom got up at the crack of dawn to make them a huge breakfast which they didn’t really want and then this person got all cranky because of the extra work. And my friend said, “why couldn’t she have just thrown some cereal and bread on the table and chilled out – we didn’t want the special treatment especially if it’s going to make her cranky and tired!”.

Story 2 – My parents thought about making a major trip to visit a relative who’s getting cancer treatment.  But they had serious second thoughts because this person and spouse demand that my parents take their bed in the master bedroom. My Mom says, “we’ve told them we’re fine to take whatever bed is free, we don’t want to put them out, we’re just happy to visit.” And the last thing they want to do kick a sick person out of their own bed. So it pretty much made their decision not to make the trip and visit.  It would just be too uncomfortable. The sick person in question would probably be horrified to know why they’re missing out on a visit for that reason.

How does this happen?  How does being a “host” mean our bodies become host to some evil monster that sets our expectations to “unreasonable”, alienates our guests and makes everyone anxious and tired?  We’re supposed to be having fun here.

I’m preaching to myself.  I’m hosting a big family meal this weekend for our annual “early Christmas” celebration.  I’ve promised myself to Keep It Easy.  Whatever is not done can stay not done.  It’s not worth doing if it’s going to be a big deal.  Everyone’s comfort and relaxation and abillity to just hang out is the most important.  My mantras for the weekend.  Wish me luck :-)

I’m all about stretching my hips and have gotten even more fervent about it.  I read somewhere it’s a good focus for winter.  I say it’s a good focus anytime we’re stupidly busy and stressed and sitting instead of playing beach volleyball.  Hey like now, in December!

Try this routine on the mat after a good warm-up that includes lunges, forward bends and pigeon pose.  Hold each of these for a few breaths.  Try to relax your lower body as much as you can in each position to get maximum benefit from the stretch.

 – Lying on your back squeeze both knees into your chest.

– Then cross your right knee over your left and squeeze both legs into your chest

– Straighten your left leg, let it rest on the mat and squeeze your right knee into your chest.  Anytime you feel you need more stretch with the first three, press your tailbone down toward the mat.

– Grab the inside of your right foot.  Bend your knee and flex your foot so that both joints are at right angles.  Then press your knee toward the floor just outside your torso, like it’s tucking into your armpit.  I think of this as Half Happy Baby/Dead Bug pose.  You’ll feel this one primarily where your leg and butt connect.

– Let go of that foot, but keeping your right leg in the same position, let it cross over your body into a twist.  Grab the outside of your right foot this time with your left hand.  Let your right arm stretch along the floor at shoulder level to ground you.  Hold your right leg in position to maintain a stretch.  I find that the key here is the right angles in knee/ankle and then deepening the twist, your right leg might rest on the floor here, or close to it.  You’ll feel this one in your right butt and vicinity.  It’s yummy.

And start the routine again for the left side.

I saw this quote and loved it:

We work in the dark

We do what we can

We give what we have

Henry James

It really spoke to me and then I thought – hey wait a second, we work in the “dark”?  Isn’t that kind of negative?  But here’s how I interpret it.  In a yoga class recently I was talking about how to be the eye of the storm when life gets nuts.  I was standing at the back of the class while everyone did Sun Salutations.  And I was just yacking and suddenly I felt freaked out – like was anyone listening?  Had they all tuned me out?  Was what I was saying clicking at all or could I have been reciting my grocery list for the value it had?  But I let it go.  I repeatedly tell myself (because I need to) that it’s about putting it out there.  None of us know the end result of our actions.  None of us know how it’s all going to turn out.  We head down our path, deal with stuff that comes up during the journey and do the best we can.  That’s all we can do.  And that’s why I like that quote.