We get a blank slate every single morning of our lives.
The way we begin can determine our mood for the rest of the day, essentially dictating our conversations, actions and overall attitude.
The Maasai tribe of Tanzania greet each other every morning not by asking, “How did you sleep?” but rather, “How did you wake?” implying that yes, we are in control of how we handle the good, the bad and the annoying—every morning.
For those of us who occasionally wake up on “the wrong side of the bed,” we are in fact making a decision about whether or not we want to use that as an excuse for an ensuing bad mood for the remainder of our waking hours.
Everyone I know starts their day in a different way.
Some people get up and immediately jump on Facebook or Instagram to see what overnight love they received. Others wake up and switch on the news first thing (which, let’s face it, isn’t going to put us in a good mood these days), and others wake up ungodly early to run 10 miles while it’s still dark outside.
One friend of mine who lives in New York City even went so far as to downsize in space, but pay more rent, so as just to have the tiniest balcony where she could stand in the morning, looking over her neighborhood while sipping tea, knowing that she needs those few minutes of quiet time to take on the day and the big city.
For me, traveling for work and being on location a couple times each month, every morning is completely different. I’ve learned to create a morning ritual for which country, time zone and sleeping arrangement don’t matter.
I could be waking up next to a camel in a desert camp of Morocco, on the floor of a bus station in Bolivia or beneath the down comforter of the Kempinski Resort in Jordan—and still I’ll be able to start my mornings the same way.
I put my phone on airplane mode before I go to sleep, so when my alarm goes off in the morning, I’m not distracted by any notifications.
After I turn off the alarm, I put my phone away for the next hour, leaving technology to be dealt with after I’ve had “me” time. (The idea is to disconnect from all screens or devices so that we can reconnect with ourselves.)
Some people may use this time to pray, journal, color or do a few sun salutations. There are many ways we can push the reset button.
Personally, I use this time to observe nature. Wherever I am in the world, I will go outside and sit. If outside isn’t available for some reason, I’ll sit in front of a window.
I begin by greeting the world, paying deliberate attention to whatever birds, trees or wind are surrounding me as I address the earth with,
“Good morning Pacha Mama. I acknowledge you. I appreciate you. I respect you. And I will do everything in my power to protect you and treat you right today.”
Then I sit, with the intention being fully present for 15 to 20 minutes.
Some days it’s easier to meditate than others. Sometimes my eyes stay closed for only 10 seconds—and some days for 10 minutes. If meditation doesn’t come easily that day, it becomes a “morning of awareness,” where I close my eyes and just listen to the sounds around me. If my eyes continue to drift open, I allow it. For me, observing the world of natural beauty around me instills a feeling of peace.
I believe we can all get this same peace from morning quiet time.
In this current age of pervasive technological availability, I have found it critical to my mental health, daily attitude and personal and professional relationships to consciously disconnect from screens at the start of the day.
Choosing to disconnect from digital buzz allows space for internal clarity and calm. For one hour every morning, we can consciously reconnect with ourselves before launching into the day.
Author: Elizabeth Gottwald
Article sourced here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/08/one-accessible-morning-practice-to-launch-our-day/
I was at a party recently telling a woman- what I do for a living. When I got to the part about helping women recover from diastasis recti – she shook her head indicating I had lost her on those words. “You know- mummy tummy, mamma pooch. When your abs separate post partum and you always look pregnant even though you are not.” Now the lady looked scared. “Separate post partum?” She had never heard of that and it sounded awful. What happens to your guts? She wanted to know.
This conversation is not a new thing. Many if not most women have never heard that your abs can separate during pregnancy. However what was shocking about my encounter with this woman is that she discovered right then and there, at this party that she herself has a diastasis recti. Yes I had her lay down and gave her the quick 20 second test on her abs and sure enough they were separated at the midline. Needless to say she was shocked and a bit angry. Shocked that no doctor had ever given her an explanation for her “mummy tummy” and angry that there was a solution out there that didn’t involve surgery and no-one had ever told her. All these years she thought it was just what happened when you had a baby. Your belly stayed “saggy,” as she described it.
Before I get to the “fix,” I just want to clear up some definitions because “mummy tummy,” “jelly belly,” and “mamma pooch” are not my favorite terms nor are they scientific. (And no, this does not have to come with the territory of pregnancy. And yes, men get it too.) Diastasis Recti (referred to as DR) is where there 2 halves of your abdominal muscles have separated creating a gap in your midsection, making it seemingly impossible to regain core strength much less feel good in a bathing suit. It sucks. It can feel awful, frustrating and like your body has totally let you down. Many women feel body shame and it is no wonder so many resort to surgery with the extreme pressure to toned, fit and thin that prevails.
Plastic surgery statistics tell us that over 100,000 people are getting abdominoplasties every single year. Proving that one of women (and men’s) most coveted physical real estate is the tummy. Invoking mama earth, desire, fertility, sexuality and a svelte silhouette all at once is a heavy load to carry in our midsection. It’s also often the area we are hardest on ourselves as mother’s. Many women post partum work feverishly to do 1000 crunches, bootcamp and cardio blasts to get a flat tummy again. For women with diastasis recti, these things can actually make it worse and not better!
Diastasis Recti is usually fixable but it requires a different approach than you might be used to.
I have worked with hundreds of women with a diastasis recti and I can tell you that it is not a death sentence. Our exercise culture and fitness world loves to blame things. You are overweight because you eat too much, you can’t get thin because of your metabolism, and your mummy tummy is from pregnancy and childbirth. These myths and lies have us aiming for perfection rather than fostering healing.
The first part to closing the gap (the term used to describe fixing a DR) is giving up on the goal of a perfect body as seen in mass media and recognizing that what your body needs most right now is a re-educating of sorts. Most wear and tear injuries like DR have a root cause. Rather than focussing on ways to get a flat belly as fast as possible, I highly recommend you to look why you have a DR. DR is caused by too much pressure in our abdominals.
The real question is: Where is the extra pressure in the abs coming from?
The common culprits to extra abdominal pressure are: body alignment- the way you stand or sit all day can put a lot of extra pressure on your abs; use/overuse/misuse of muscles can also create extra pressure; and one of the main culprits that always surprises people is your breathing patterns. A belly breathing pattern once again puts a lot of excess pressure on your abs. Once you peg the root causes and go about resolving the muscle imbalances, your breathing patterns and alignment of your body- your diastasis recti should get better and with the right exercise program- you can close the gap and build a functional core.
The second part of the closing the gap healing process is to realize that diastasis recti is not a death sentence because it can be an opportunity to practice self love, acceptance and compassion. We have been brainwashed into how our bodies “should” look- hard, toned and slim. (We are often not told that hard, toned and slim does not equal healthy and balanced.) Embracing health is not unlike any other emotional issue – it means accepting where we are at first, the choices we made to get here and then looking at creating a healthy relationship with ourselves again. The path to embracing your body rather than shaming it and having unrealistic expectations can lead to a more rewarding overall experience.
Just as there’s no cheat-sheet for parenting, the same goes for loving and accepting our post baby bodies no matter how many years it’s been. If you have tried the get-thin-quick, have-a-flat belly-fast programs only to find that they do not work for you try getting to the root cause of the imbalance and then search for some online communities that support a restorative approach. Having a supportive community of like-minded women who are on the path to healing helps as we find our way back to the trust we once had in our physical bodies. Knowing that the only death sentence we face, is the one where we don’t change our perspective on how bodies “should” look.
Join Lauren’s private FB group for practical tips, videos and articles for all things post baby body related: Restore Your Core.
Here is a concept that I really want you to consider, I want you to view exercise and being active as medicine, a dose of goodness to manage your health, weight and wellness. It has been proven over and over that as a preventative measure to ill health and as a ‘cure’ for a lot of ailments, exercise is the best medicine around.
So if we know that this ‘medicine’ called exercise can have such a positive effect on our well being then why isn’t everyone taking their daily dose? Who knows maybe fear, laziness or indecision? Here’s some help.
Start with a goal and see your goal as being your dessert – something you’re really looking forward to but you need to earn it. Get to your goal in small bite size pieces. If your goal is to drop 20kg then plot some smaller increments in your calendar rather than the big figure down the track.
Make sure you get your exercise dosage correct so get some guidance. It is important to know how much exercise should be ‘absorbed’ to give you the maximum benefit for your goal. Exercise should be prescribed in a specific dose you know that works for you including type, intensity, frequency and duration. Definitely sample different types of exercise medicine, until you’ve found what ‘medicinal remedy’ fits best with you or is easiest to swallow. Basically make sure the exercise you ‘take’ is something you enjoy and something that is going to help you get to your goal.
Make a commitment to your health, yourself and your future. Taking a daily dose of exercise medicine in some way nearly every day will lead to a positive lifestyle change and a very healthy habit
So if you decide you want to get a dose of one of the best medicines for your health, call me, “Dr” Glen, at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 and we can organise a FREE prescription to get you started.
All the while, media and society are in our face telling us, “That’s not enough. You need to own more, do more.”
In 2008 I decided I’d had enough. This concept didn’t seem right or worth it; and a wailing inside told me to stop and reevaluate my lifestyle. It was then that I embarked on a seven-month backpacking odyssey into the backroads of Asia, exploring different Buddhist traditions and advancing my meditation practice. I was determined to find the key to greater peacefulness in my life.
It was a life-changing journey, and this adventure—the people, the land, the culture and the Buddhist Masters I met—became the basis for my book Caves, Huts, and Monasteries: Finding the Deeper Self Along the Footpaths of Asia.
As I lived with people who have extraordinarily simple lifestyles, an insight into my inner angst began to form. High in the Himalayas I met mountain villagers who owned almost nothing and were raised from birth to put the needs of others before their own. I saw happiness and contentment there.
I stayed with an Indian desert family in their straw-roofed hut where they walked in bare feet and traveled by camel and cart. I saw happiness and contentment there.
I stayed in numerous Buddhist monasteries with monks who slept on the floor, owned only their robes, and spent their waking hours either in meditation or helping others. I saw happiness and contentment there.
I met and talked with common folk, people with few belongings, and so often our discussions would end with this advice: “Money means nothing, sir. Materials mean nothing, sir.” I saw happiness and contentment in them.
I saw no link between having and happiness. But why not? My life is much easier than theirs. I have hot, running water at the press of a button, a house that is heated and air-conditioned, soft and comfortable furniture and a car at my fingertips to go anywhere at any time. I have a lot.
This conundrum dwelled in my mind for many weeks. And then I saw the link: there is more cost to ownership than shown on the price tag.
For each item we own, there is a “Real Ownership Cost,” which includes the time, effort and anxiety we experience throughout the life cycle of ownership. Aha! Deciding what to purchase based only on the price tag is where we’ve gone wrong.
Here’s where things become unorthodox. We’re talking about effects on our life here, not pocketbook cost. So let’s throw the concept of money out the door for a moment. I want to measure Real Ownership Cost in terms of time and anxiety—after all, isn’t that what we complain about? There’s always too little time and too much anxiety. Isn’t having time to enjoy oneself in a peaceful manner a good measure of quality of life?
Since we can’t pull out a calculator to evaluate this cost, we will make this a subjective evaluation. Doing this raises awareness of what we do in our lives—this is applied mindfulness.
If we calculate the Real Ownership Cost for all the things we own, we will find that ownership is a significant cause of the busyness and stress we so often complain about. We need to somehow consider this cost upfront before embarking on a purchase.
Let me give you an example of Real Ownership Cost—I’ll use a television purchase to demonstrate.
The above example is different for every person and every item we consider. And it doesn’t just apply to large items. When we look at the full lifecycle effects of ownership, there is much more than meets the eye, and extending the consideration to all the items we own accounts for a significant part of our daily struggle with time and anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the sole key to a “lighter mind”—only a component. We still have a lot of inner work to do to recognize the cravings and attachment to non-material items that produce anger, jealousy and unhappiness. And I’m not suggesting we renounce everything, shave our heads and wear a robe. The point is awareness: if we are aware of all the negatives that come along with that desirable item, we might well choose otherwise. Meditation is one tool to help gain that level of awareness.
It took an extended time living in third world situations before I recognized the link between ownership, time and stress. Sure, we’ve heard the great sages tell us not to get caught up in earthly things, but that all seems high and holy, doesn’t it? Everyone around us own plenty, so striving for more seems normal.
But don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the things around you and mentally consider all the time, effort and anxiety that went into them. Notice the small increments of time spent and worry created in engaging with belongings as you go through your daily activities. Multiply the effect times all the things you own.
Several friends of mine have done this to varying degrees and each reported a lightening of their life, a release of burden. One went through all his belongings and sold everything he could reasonably do without—right down to the unopened bottle of shampoo he didn’t intend to use. Not only did he “lighten his load,” but he had fun doing it.
Having less is like removing a ball and chain from one’s foot. First, we find more financial flexibility. Think about how much less stressful work would be if we didn’t have to worry about how to pay for all our purchases. Next, we find more available time. Here’s an opportunity to add to our meditation practice or volunteer in your community. Exercising compassion is easier without the burden of added stress.
So what’s stopping us from releasing a belonging? I often hear people say, “I might need it sometime.” But we can always buy another if we truly need to. I suggest trying to get by without it. Be creative with what you have and you might be surprised.
From a Buddhist perspective, this is addressing the root causes of our suffering: desire and attachment. Watch your mind as you consider relinquishing an item. Observe the clinging, grabbing and resistance of the mind. It is literally uncomfortable at times. Don’t fight it, just acknowledge it and then act appropriately. If the mind resists too much, let it be, drop the issue and resolve to revisit it at a later date. You may find at a later date that the mind has naturally comes to terms and is ready to let it go.
We need to focus on us: raising our awareness and lightening our load. With this mastered, we can move on to the larger societal problem of consumption.
Real Ownership Cost is a perspective, not an equation. It allows us to see how the cumulative invested time and anxiety over the lifecycle of ownership contributes to the busyness and anxiety in our lives. Ownership is best evaluated from a holistic viewpoint that focuses on the total impact on our lives. When purchasing and consuming becomes a conscious choice not driven by sublime desire, we will lighten our lives and our minds.
Author: Mark S. Kacik
Sourced from: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/07/the-real-cost-of-ownership-how-to-lighten-our-life-mind/
If you stifle yawns in 2 p.m. meetings and find yourself passed out cold during the previews on movie nights, you probably already know you’re run down. But there’s a big difference between being pooped out and being exhausted — and the signs aren’t as obvious as just feeling tired. It’s important to know the difference, because exhaustion can be downright dangerous.
“Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated facets of health,” says Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life. “The consequences of sacrificing it can ripple throughout various areas of your life. Exhaustion has been linked to issues with appetite regulation, heart disease, increased inflammation, and a 50 percent increase in your risk of viral infection.” So if you’re tired and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, it might mean you’re exhausted — and it’s time to devote some serious time to sleep, ASAP
1. Your Lips Are Dry
If your lips are cracked, your skin is scaly, and you’re suffering from frequent headaches, dehydration may be to blame. Yes, this is a common woe in cold-weather climates. But, if you’re feeling rundown, you should know it goes hand-in-hand with exhaustion. “You feel more fatigued the more dehydrated you are,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. “If you’re constantly craving something to drink or experience dry skin and lips, you might be dealing with a level of hydration that can lead to exhaustion.”
“You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day.”
Water affects so many systems within your body that it’s impossible to maintain your energy levels if you’re not drinking sufficient amounts of H20, he explains. “People often forget to hydrate because it just isn’t on their minds. Everyone’s different, but I always tell people you should drink water to the point where your urine is clear,” says Breus.
2. Your Mind Is All Fuzzy
Your brain needs sleep like a car needs gas; neither runs very well on empty. “Among other things, your body uses sleep to stabilize chemical imbalances, to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day,” says Dr. Andersen.
This is especially important during the 90-minute period known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When it’s disturbed, your mind might be sluggish the next day. “You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day,” says Dr. Andersen. Exhaustion can leave you vulnerable to forgetting important things, like a big meeting at work, or feeling especially irritable, says Dr. Andersen.
3. Your Workouts Have Sucked
Not crushing it at the gym like you usually do? Being exhausted causes every aspect of your life to suffer — including exercise, according to Dr. Andersen. “Exercising requires mental focus as well as physical activity,” Andersen says. “If your brain is falling behind because you are not well-rested, your ability to properly challenge your body will be limited — and that’s in addition to the many performance consequences that come with poor sleep.”
Another big sign: You can’t even bring yourself to make it to the gym. “Our bodies are programmed to find the easy way out, which was useful 10,000 years ago when survival was difficult. Today that means one night of lost sleep can lead to weeks of missed workouts and unhealthy meals,” says Dr. Andersen.
4. You’re Super Stressed (and Trying to Ignore It)
It’s no surprise that stress can keep you up at night, but the way you deal with it is what might cause exhaustion-inducing insomnia, according to research in the journal Sleep. For the study, researchers asked nearly 2,900 men and women about the stress in their lives, including how long it affected them, how severe it was, and how they handled the pressure. A year later, the researchers found that people who coped with stress by distracting themselves, dwelling on the issues, or trying to completely ignore it had higher instances of chronic insomnia, which they characterized as three sleepless nights a week for a month or more. This can turn into a vicious cycle of stress and exhaustion fueling one other. The researchers suggest using mindfulness techniques to ease stress might be a better way to cope.
5. You’re Eating More Junk Than Usual
Find yourself hitting up the office vending machine on the regular? “The more exhausted you are, the more you crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods,” says Breus. Exhaustion often corresponds with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. To decrease cortisol, your brain will often seek out a hit of the neurotransmitter serotonin. “[Serotonin] is a calming hormone. An easy way to access it is by ingesting comfort food full of carbs and fat,” says Breus.
Even worse, all that comfort food can just wind up making you more exhausted. “With highly processed, highly glycemic foods like soft drinks, candy bars, or bagels, blood sugar and insulin levels will rise dramatically,” says Dr. Anderson. “The elevated insulin levels actually cause blood sugar to plummet, so your brain triggers [more] cravings for something full of sugar, fat, and calories.” Then, it starts all over again. Instead of reaching for comforting junk, Dr. Andersen recommends fueling your body with healthy low-glycemic foods like fruits and whole grains that can help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your insulin levels from swinging wildly in either direction.
6. You Sleep Poorly Even Once a Week
You probably know that chronic insomnia can trigger exhaustion. But did you know that even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day? In a study in the journal Sleep Medicine, 61 study participants slept for eight hours for one night. The next night, their rest was interrupted by four phone calls that instructed them to finish a short computer challenge before they could continue sleeping. Researchers found that after a night of fragmented sleep, people experienced worse moods along with weaker attention spans, suggesting that interrupted sleep might be as detrimental as the exhaustion that comes with full-on sleep restriction.
Or, maybe instead of dealing with interrupted sleep, you just go to bed way later than you should. “Bedtime procrastination” is the latest buzzy term in sleep medicine. In a study in Frontiers in Medicine, researchers discovered that on nights when the 177 participants reported procrastinating their zzz’s, they slept less and with worse quality. Plus, they experienced more intense fatigue the next day. “Set your bedtime and stick to it, counting back seven hours from when you need to wake up to determine the ideal start to your sleep latency period, or falling asleep time,” advises Dr. Andersen. “Decrease stimulation 30 minutes before you plan to sleep by shutting off cellphones, televisions, and other devices.”
Ready to make a change? Check out this guide for a better night’s rest.
Updated January 2016 on 1/15/2016