Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What If?

What if you:
  • put aside your hurts?
  • suspended your "I don't likes..."?
  • treated your spouse/sister/brother/friend like a new acquaintance?
  • simply forgot about all the times before and started afresh?
  • did something for the sheer joy of it?
  • realise that you do have a lot to offer?
  • were afraid, but did it anyway?
  • followed your heart?
  • implemented one of these in 2010?
Are you ready to learn, change and grow?

Is this the year?

It becomes possible by activating the power within your heart.

Image courtesy of Cecile Graat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Just like every thorn has its rose. This is the duality of life. There is good and bad in most things. Without the bad, do you really appreciate the good?

Likewise, with the things that make our life pleasurable. Too much of a good thing and the good thing becomes ordinary - it loses its appeal by virtue of becoming humdrum. We often end up taking it for granted, then.

I remember when I was about 10 years old, asking my mom why we couldn't have my favourite dessert every night. Her quick reply, "Because it wouldn't be special."

My mom was wise. She knew that serving that dessert on a regular basis would no longer make it a treat. It seems to be a condition of human nature that when those special things become everyday, we take them for granted and they lose their "special" designation.

This applies to people, too. How many of you are taking those who love and support you for granted?

With mindfulness or attention, you can become aware that this is happening. Remember to appreciate and value those good things and people in your life. In so-doing, you have activated the power of your heart, which is the key to undressing your stress.

Image courtesy of Jay Simmons

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Things that Go Bump, Pay It Forward

A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling up to the light in the left-turn lane, when I was hit by a driver who had decided to make a sudden lane change.

It was fortunate that no one was seriously hurt. However, it did require a few trips to the office of 6th St. Chiropratic and Wellness.

My car was repaired in an expeditious manner, thanks to ICBC and to the woman who willingly came forward as a witness. She is truly living up to her name. Thanks, Angela!

I am grateful to her and want her to know that she is now part of the Pay It Forward movement.

So, here is the deal:

I am offering an Undress the Stress™ Chat to the first 10 people who contact me through my website.

In lieu of the $40.00 payment to me, I would ask that you make a donation to your local Food Bank or Christmas Bureau.

An Undress the Stress™ Chat is a 20 minute session which is not counselling, nor is it a "tell all" session. You will learn one technique that you can apply anytime you are feeling stressed.

This will help stop the cascade of 1400 neuro-chemicals, so that you are in a better position to do and feel better.

It's the Reverberational Effect in action!

Related Posts:
Image courtesy of Christian Ferrari

Mouse Trap

I was a very happy little girl when Santa brought that Mouse Trap game one Christmas, so long ago.

Playing the game seemed to pale in comparison to watching the ball bearing roll along and effect changes along the way. One thing leads to another and another. Cause and effect in action, courtesy of the Ideal Toy Company.

This game is a good analogy for what happens to you when you have a perception, which leads to certain thoughts and feelings. Your body then responds with a host of physiological effects.

In other words, what goes on "upstairs" affects "downstairs", "inside" and "outside". Negative thoughts and emotions create a very different result in the body than do positive thoughts and emotions.

You are a system. Each part does not act in isolation from the others. It is empowering to know that you can have an influence over some of your "parts". For example, when you see how quickly your heart rhythms react to negative thoughts and emotions and know that you are contributing to stress-related symptoms and conditions, you'll want to take more care.

You'll get a more efficient and harmonious system when you start with the heart. Your system and you are stronger for it.

If you remember that Mouse Trap game, when it was set up properly, things worked as they were supposed to. Just like your system. Right?

What some people get up to! For a little bit of fun, click to see a live, human-sized version of Mouse Trap.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one. Official license

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

With the Turn of a Calendar Page

'Tis the season to be jolly, or is it?

For a child growing up in the home of an alcoholic, any holiday season is fraught with painful memories of years gone by when the season was anything but joyous.

Even as an adult, living away from the situation, the alcoholic can still have a strong hold on how one perceives the holidays. For many years, I was unaware that just turning the calendar to “December” was enough to trigger a cascade of 1400 neuro-chemicals.

These reactions produce a host of side-effects that can leave us feeling anxious, worn out and unable to enjoy life. Their purpose is to prepare the body for flight or fight and if untransformed, can impact our memory, decision-making and problem-solving skills. They are not to be taken lightly. Cortisol, “the stress hormone”, is connected to a variety of serious illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and immune and fertility issues. These may not show up for decades, so stress is often over-looked as a link in the disease process.

Temptation Looms
Merry-making is ramped up during this season of peace joy, which makes it difficult for the alcoholic to avoid the drinks scene. Despite vowing to abstain or limit the alcohol intake, there is extreme pressure to consume. “Aww, c'mon, one drink won't hurt.” “It's the holidays. Live a little!” For someone who is addicted, it doesn't take much encouragement before they're raising a glass or the bottle.

This type of atmosphere is tough on everyone. It creates a state of hyper-vigilance or acute awareness, where one is always alert, wondering when the next big explosion will take place.

A myriad of emotions are felt: Disappointment - “Not again.” Hope - “This year it will be different.” Anger - “Why can't this stop!” Blame - “If only I were prettier/smarter/better/more lovable....”

Conditioned Response
Living in an alcoholic home means that there is a lot of conditioning that takes place, often at a young age. The amygdala is a small gland in the brain that is responsible for emotional memory. In prehistoric times, it allowed us to learn that the sabre-toothed tiger was a threat to our lives and that we had to beware or be eaten.

In an alcoholic home there is repeated exposure to fear-producing events, thus causing a strong association to things that remind us of that time. As we go through life, the amygdala continues to look for matches and when it finds something that is close enough, will prepare our body for the stress response – flight or fight.

The trigger is often imperceptible – it could be the sound of someone's voice, ice in a glass, a certain expression on someone's face or the sight of a particular decoration.

Unless we are aware that we are reacting to a trigger, we can experience a wide range of less-than-seasonal feelings which can include, but are not restricted to depression, regret, loneliness and anger.

Hope and Healing
For me, the awareness that my amygdala is looking for a match, of which the Christmas season means plenty, has made an impact upon my healing. Now that I know that a lot of the negative feelings are side-effects to the stress response, I can usually catch them in time and transform them with heart-activated techniques.

I know that the changing of the calendar no longer means "danger". I also know that the Christmas gatherings I now attend do not end in fights, nor does anyone end up in tears. I do not have to scan the faces of my loved ones to see what kind of mood they're in and how I should react in light of that mood.

As I continue to practise these techniques, a surprising thing has happened. One day, I was thinking about him and realised that I no longer held the anger I once did for him. I had forgiven him.

Holding onto anger is exhausting - it is also stress-producing. That is why, when we forgive we are Forgifting Ourselves. Will I forget? No. But, I think enough hurt has come out of that situation. It was time to put an end to that.

Learning, Changing and Growing
This has been a process of learning and growing and one that I continue to use on a daily basis.

It also helps to know that I can have an effect on my “internal pharmacy” by choosing my thoughts and emotions. When I choose to activate positive emotions, I know that I am changing my heart rhythms – the smoother the heart rhythms the better I feel. The better I feel, the better I do.

When our mood changes for the better, all the little things that bothered us fall away and we live our lives in a way that is resourceful for us. We make wiser decisions and we are in a better position to share the gift that is ourself with others.

In an old pattern of thinking and feeling? Consider the fact that you've noticed what are you are doing and that you are looking to make some changes by replacing your old behaviours with new ones. Ones that allow you to transform your stress.

Related Post: Forgifting Ourselves

Image courtesy of Pawel Kryj.