Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Illuminating Your Work and Play

In the flow. In the zone. Time stops. Or in my case, it feels like the words are magically pouring out of my hand and onto the page.

On the the Ellen show, Cloris Leachman had her own way to describe this phenomenon. She told the audience that she gets enveloped with a sense of "Whoosh!" whenever she sits down to play the piano. As she described this feeling, her smile widened and her face became brighter. It was as if she were suddenly illuminated - her inner light turned on.

When you are constantly stressed, your light is dimmed - your ability to do well, whether at work or play, is diminished. The constant wear and tear on your nervous system leaves you feeling unwell, emotionally, mentally and/or physically. Accessing that higher state becomes difficult, as the body is focused on survival, even if much of today's stressors are rarely matters of life or death.

I never really understood that wonderful feeling of "Whoosh!" until I began my own journey to heart-based stress transformation.

How about you? Are you able to enjoy that marvelous feeling of being in the flow? How would you describe it, when you do achieve that state?

Image courtesy of Thomas Boulvin.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mood by Food

I have a weakness for bread. Whole-grain. Rye. Unleavened. Foccacia. Suffice to say, that I'm enamoured with a multi-cultural tour around the bread-baskets of the world.

Butter? Who needs it when bread is melt-in-your-mouth fresh?

Last week, friends come over for lunch, bearing, not fishes, but loaves, or rather, variants thereof.

I over-indulged; it was a nice accompaniment to this Cream of Asparagus Soup and the other bowls and plates of comestibles that constituted a "Kaye's Lunch".

I paid the price, by tossing and turning my way through that never-ending night. I know that it was directly attributable to over-indulging in carbs. It was no surprise that I was not in the best of moods the following day. Mood brought to a body nearby, courtesy of food.

There was a time when I wouldn't have drawn a correlation between the sweats and what I had consumed earlier. It simply would not have been in my awareness.

That ability to see the relationship between what I do and how I feel is strengthened by regularly practising stress techniques. This allows for a deeper understanding and a more intuitive approach to life. Stress distracts. Your focus is

Here is how it works:  
  • Awareness - if you know you are doing something that is not your highest interest, you can catch it sooner
  • Knowledge - of course, catching the behaviour doesn't make a big difference unless you understand why it's important to replace it and what to do in lieu of it
  • Practice - lots and lots of time to practise, so that the target behaviour becomes an unconscious and wanted habit
Of course, there's more at issue, like why I over-indulged in the first place. I will slice into that in a future post.

Start noticing how you feel when you consume certain foods. Does the type of food you indulge in depend upon your emotional state?

Thanks to Fabiana Guedes for the image!

Friday, January 15, 2010

That Little Voice - Intuition!

I know better. Or, to put a more resourceful spin on it...I am learning to hear, listen, trust and act upon that little voice, otherwise known as the voice of intuition.

Their loss, our gain
Little Holly was left tied to a fence in a warehouse district during the cold spell we had in December. The wonderful people at the animal shelter picked her up and took her and placed her up for adoption. As a result, we are now fortunate to have her grace our lives.

We brought her home and began building a relationship of trust. Then, it was time to bring her back to the shelter to have her spayed. This had been arranged by them with one of their vets.

The evening before her spaying, as we approached the shelter, a little voice - a quiet one - was nagging me and making me think that this was not the way in which to handle this situation. What if, by returning her to the shelter, the smells, sights and sounds would only serve to confuse and retraumatise her? Why not ask about having her spayed at the vet we've seen for 10 years - the one we know?

I didn't listen.

Trust takes time
Needless to say, Holly has changed since her surgery. Her previous trust in me has been replaced by an obsessive attachment to a little ball. She sleeps with it. It's the first thing she goes for in the morning. She even wants to go for a walk with it.

Perhaps she feels that I let her down because she thought I was abandoning her when I brought her back to the shelter? Then, she was cut open, altered and put into pain and given a pain killer that affects one's thought processes. (I've been on the same one. I know.)

Just recently, I've been able to sit with her, stroke her and have the ball nearby, where she can see it. I'm sure that with time and love she will heal. (Great news! As I typed the first draft of this post, she wandered in to see me without her ball!) 

Six days post-surgery, she has started spotting. In consultation with our regular vet, this is abnormal. Thus far, we've had two visits to the vet and lab tests will, hopefully, rule out Von Willebrand disease.

Teaching without speaking
Animals have so much to teach us and this lesson is about listening when that quiet voice whispers - don't ignore it, for it is the voice of wisdom.

One of the reasons, this voice of intuition is being heard is because of the regular work I do at transforming my stress. As the chatter of stress is reduced, the power of the heart works its wonders, providing us with information that enriches and improves our lives.

The voice of intuition is speaking - my job is to trust and have faith that it is steering me in the right direction. That will come.

Today, she was able to sit with me for an hour, without feeling compelled to go fetch her "security ball".

Perhaps in the grander scheme of things, she needed the vet visits to learn that she is our little girl with "shattered glass" eyes and that she has come home!

My little voice is murmuring - it is saying that all will be well. I'm going to listen and have faith that it will be so.

For you to consider
  • Have there been times when you've heard the voice of intuition and chosen to ignore it?
  • Have there been equally as many times when you've acted upon the voice of intuition?
  • Are you able to decipher the difference between the voice of intuition and the voice of "I want..."?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Deletion and Distortion

I was in the U.S. to take a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner's course in October 2008. You'll recall that this was when Barack Obama and John McCain were vigourously vying for that position of POTUS.

One of my classmates suggested that we practise our newly-learned skills by watching a debate between the presidential hopefuls by turning off the volume and looking at the display of non-verbal clues.

It became clear that these were McCain supporters. They were looking for and finding reasons why McCain was the better candidate, based upon eye movement and mannerisms.

I didn't say much, but decided to go back to my room and make my own observations. As I didn't have the same attachment and interest in the election results as my classmates did, my observations differed considerably from those who were keen on the outcome.

Deletion and distortion

Deletion and distortion are two concepts that we learned about in NLP.

Have you ever ignored incoming information at the expense of what you were working on? You may have filtered out or deleted that which you determined is unimportant or insignificant.

We may distort information in order to make ourselves right or to prove a point. It is so subtle that we are often unaware of it taking place. We find justification for our beliefs - we find what we are looking for. Just like my classmates who were looking for confirmation of their beliefs of who would make the better president.

This simple exercise proved that even though we think we are objective, it is difficult to leave our thoughts and emotions out of the equation.

Science says...

"...we are awash in social signals, and any social science that treats individuals as discrete decision-making creatures is nonsense," says David Brooks in The Young and the Neuro, a related article, published in the New York Times. It goes on to say that we divide people into groups - in or out - in as little as 170 milliseconds. However, by teaching people to become aware that this is occurring, change can take place.

Working with what you do

Awareness and the willingness to accept that we do have biases, then pausing to hover over those opinions and decisions to evaluate whether they are true or relevant, are skills that can be learned and practised.

Fear can cause us to hold on to beliefs long after they no longer serve us or new and better information has been attained.

Are you prepared to pay the price for stress? How is your health? Relationships? Sleep?

Do you remember what your life was like when you weren't so stressed?

Related articles: Subjective Objective

Image courtesy of Allen Pope.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Got G.R.O.T.?

Do you have G.R.O.T. - General Rules of Thumb that you use in your daily life? Have you forgotten them? Did you ever learn them? Or, has stress made you ignore them?

Consider them as the rules of conduct to help you get through a busy day with the least amount of damage.

My husband came home to tell me about the dirty dish problem at work. Despite having a dish-washer, more often than not, all the dirty dishes end up stacked precariously in the sink, on the counter and even makes it way around the room, like some slow-moving dishsect. Rather than cleaning up after themselves, the culprits leave them for the Dish Fairy.

I've been thinking about the people who think they don't have to clean up their own messes. @Marissa_Herrera retweeted an article by Sami Grover. In it, he talks about recycling sins and how he was always left to clean the can (the aluminum cans, but I'm guessing the other one, too.) It seems that good intentions drop onto the shoulders of the few. His job would be so much easier if all his housemates would have pitched in and done their part.

General Rules of Thumb
So, without further ado, here's a list of things that are considered good manners and help ease the burden for everyone:
  1. If you take it out, put it back. Food, clothing, office supplies, equipment, etc.
  2. If you use it up, put it on the list to be replaced or tell someone who is responsible for replacing it.
  3. At the workplace, clean up after yourself - wash your dishes - that also includes your coffee mug.
  4. If you make a mess, clean it up.
  5. Hold the door open for someone - don't just let it slam in their face. This takes 2 seconds and is common courtesy.
  6. See someone struggling with the door or their coat. Help them.
  7. If you've received your neighbour's mail - walk it down to them. Good chance to get to know them (No, not by sneaking a peek at their mail!)
  8. Plan your time well so you arrive on time for your appointments. By your tardiness, the entire schedule is affected.
  9. Take your place in the line - no butting in.
  10. Let someone merge in while driving - even if you think they were in the wrong.
  11. Just because you've missed the turn while driving, don't expect that 4 lanes of traffic should stop because you want to cross. Go around the block.
  12. If you see acts of violence, call the police. This is not a spectator sport. Children need to know this, too.
  13. Make it a habit, at least once a week, to do a random act of kindness. Increase to daily.
Most of these things were reinforced in elementary school, complete with little jingles to help set the lesson. Unfortunately, not all households take the same view and children grow up forgetting these valuable skills.

More Stress - Manners Slide
Adults, who know and understand these mores, may let them slide as they become increasingly stressed. As they feel the pressure mounting, their window of tolerance closes. They may become more impatient and quicker to anger. Performing the niceties of manners is just one more drain on their time and energy. Something's gotta give and it does. We're seeing this in the form of shorter tempers, increased road/desk rage and less tolerance and patience for others.
  • Do things you would normally have had patience for upset you?
  • Are you finding yourself reacting to comments when there was no challenge issued?
  • Do you always feel you are on the run and have no time for the things listed above?
What better time than the new year to re-activate your G.R.O.T and learn some emotional management techniques that will help to balance your nervous system? In the process, you begin to feel better. You'll treat yourself and others better, too!

Image courtesy of Magic Marie.