Saturday, October 13, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
I was so lost in my meditative state, mid bicep curl, I didn't even notice a friend standing a mere few feet behind me, waving for my attention.
This is why working out is my escape.
The mind-body connection is, undoubtedly, highly important to pay attention to in order to avoid injury when lifting weights, but often overlooked is its incredibly centering, calming and empowering potential. It is meditation in motion with an added muscle-challenging intensity.
There are many things that drive my work outs and I've touched on them more than once throughout my relatively young blog. I've gone over why I choose not to work out for the calorie-burning effect, the amazing bond shared in a group fitness class, and the joys of trying something new, among other reasons. This reason is more quiet and strength driven.
When I train clients, I try my best to make sure they understand the reasons for why they are performing a certain exercise. I don't care so much that they can lift something up and put something down- that's all well and good, but we'd both be doing each other a great disservice if I were just being paid to watch that happen.
I want clients to understand what muscle they are working and why it matters. I want them to focus on the contraction and relaxation of the muscle fibers and mentally hone in on the firing of the nerves. I want them to not only strengthen their skeletal muscle, but their mind-body connection muscle as well. Working out then becomes a total experience.
Within the 24 hours of our day, there is already far too many actions that we mindlessly move through the motions of. Most of our days are spent on autopilot as we repeat the same things, follow the same schedules and carry out the same tasks, day in and day out. Personally, I believe we can all benefit from daily practice of being in the moment, even if only for a few minutes at a time.
It would all do us good to learn to slow everything down and just breathe.
But, I get a lot of scoffs when I try to get people to actually take time to sit. And breathe. and do nothing else.
Sometimes, I don't even have the patience for that.
So this is my alternative when I'm not trying my darndest to practice seated meditation.
Exhale, lift, squeeze, hold, release, inhale, pause....
Strengthening my mind as I strengthen my body with every rep, every set, every workout.
There's nothing like it.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Emotions are messages coming either internally from our bodies or externally from our lives. They arise for us to experience, assess and decode them, if we so choose to. Otherwise, they come and go, at times bringing us on a roller coaster of ups and downs.
Uncomfortable emotions are the scariest to deal with. To fear or try suppress them is to give them power. If we take the time to understand these emotions, we can disarm them of any power they have taken on and actually come out with a valuable bit of insight.
It's like finding the diamond hidden under the coal- we just need to chip away at the dark exterior.
Jealousy, commonly perceived as a negative emotion, is wrought with insecurity, anxiety and fear. Seeing someone happier than yourself, a colleague being promoted to a higher-paying position, a significant other talking highly about someone other than yourself... All these things spur an ugly, uncomfortable feeling of wanting what someone else has.
But is it a bad thing?
Let's find the diamond underneath.
Jealousy is an indicator of a deep desire we have for something that will potential make us happy.
So, you're thinking, "Well, that was kind of obvious. But, I still want something I don't have."
Here's the beauty in it though- now that you know there is something that you want, you can start taking steps towards having it, yourself.
Jealous of your coworker's promotion? Ask yourself- what is it that is making you feel this way? Do you feel like you want to move up at work? Do you envy your peer's drive to reach higher levels? Or is it the recognition that comes along with the promotion that you want for yourself?
Regardless of what is really going on underneath the surface, figuring out the answer to the question "what is it that I am really jealous of?" will guide you towards the steps you must take towards being happier and more satisfied with what you have and where you are.
Then there's the whole issue of being content with exactly what you have. But, that's for another day.
The message here is that a positive spin can even be placed on perceived negative emotions.
As long as happiness and positivity are always the main focal point, there is always a way to find meaning, purpose and a reason to smile in anything.
Even when you're green with envy.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I avoid confrontation; I'm a lover, not a fighter, every day, any day, in the majority of situations. I prefer talking about a situation in a rational manner and responding instead of reacting.
But, sometimes, fights happen.
And they suck.
Especially when they are with family and others that are close to us.
But, that's who we usually end up fighting with.
I'd like to believe that most people choose their battles, opting only to engage when the fight is worthwhile. Usually this takes a certain amount of care and consideration. Otherwise, why bother?
That's the beautiful thing about most family fights- on most occasions, what lies beneath the yelling, the blaming, the tears... under all that ugly negative energy... is love.
Whenever I can momentarily pull myself away from a fight and gain some perspective on the situation, I can usually find an empathetic understanding for my opponent's stance. In just about every case of Mom versus me, the reason for her anger stems from some mutation of her want for the best for me.
Our differing views of what constitutes life satisfaction and happiness often creates conflict. I fight for acceptance of my views and she fights for me to adapt hers. (Ironic, the amount of negative energy coming from the common goal of happiness). The important factor to highlight here, though, is that my well being is important enough to her to be fought for.
How could I be mad at that?
In the heat of an argument, it's difficult to even attempt to find a positive angle to the negative situation. We see red, in anger, and it blinds us to the whole picture as our focus can concentrate on nothing else.
Find the love- it's hidden under all that negativity... somewhere.
Monday, September 24, 2012
How are you feeling?
"I feel angry."
"I feel sad."
"I feel happy."
"I feel scared"
... All valid answers to the question at hand.
"I feel fat."
...Not so much.
FAT IS NOT A FEELING.
Feelings describe our state of emotion, not our state of appearance, and even if they did, I'd reason to say that bodily mass surely didn't develop overnight to suddenly create exacerbated sense of "fatness."
It makes just as much sense to say "I feel fat" as it does to say "I feel purple."
There's something more being said in this "feeling fat" statement- a lowered sense of self-esteem, a heightened self-consciousnesses, a harsher self-judgment... "feeling fat" definitely has an all around negative connotation.
My main concern when I hear this statement, however, is not the identifying of oneself with this negative feeling, but more so identifying of oneself by a physical attribute (or perception of one).
We are more than out appearance.
Who we are is a compilation of our talents and hobbies, our likes and dislikes, the impact we make on others and the world- the way we look is, by definition, a superficial way to identify ourselves.
Looks are fleeting; so much so that they can be changed through diet and exercise, plastic surgery and makeup.
Personality and who we are at our core is everlasting.
No amount of lipstick or designer clothing can beautify a bad attitude.
Similarly, no amount of extra body weight or bad hair days can keep a bright, positive disposition from shining through.
The next time we hear ourselves say we feel fat, let's dig deeper and find out what's really going on... What are we missing? What message are we really trying to get across?
When I hear "I feel fat," accompanied by sad eyes and a wounded whimper, I know what I'm really hearing is more akin to, "I am feeling down on myself and could really use a hug."
Of course, there are days when "feeling fat" can be accredited to overdoing sugar and salt intake the day before and the body physically retains more water... but, that's what elastic waist pants and flowy tops were made for.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
But, she's no psychic.
She picks up the most subtle of cues in my mother's voice when she speaks and senses her energy, even from halfway across the world, in Korea.
But, my mom believes my grandmother to have superhuman, prophetic powers.
And therefore thinks her word to be the be all end all.
Good or bad.
Grandma has told my mom to pursue business opportunities in the past because she felt they were sure to be successful. She's told her to have patience with me because she knew I would eventually come to my senses. She's told her to have faith in my father because he would do the right thing in the end.
And each time she's been right.
Don't get me wrong, my grandmother has a powerful gift of intuition that she's strengthened over the years and it is awe inspiring, nonetheless. But, I can't help but wonder, what's really going on here?
As much as I enjoy imagining my grandmother like this...
I'm thinking more that there's a self-fulfilling prophecy effect happening here.
My mom trusts her own mother's judgment, putting faith in her words, never questioning their validity. If Grandma says it will be one way, so it will be.
Most of her "visions" happen to be of positive nature, with my mother's best interest always in mind. Naturally. Every mother wishes the best for her child.
When my mom gets off the phone with Grandma, she's always filled with not only wonder and amazement, but, most importantly, hope.
Hearing my grandmother's encouraging words fills my mom with positive energy, illuminating her outlook on the future. Grandma assures my mom that everything will be okay- so it will be.
Without hope, a positive attitude or trust that things can and will go the way we will them to, the already unpredictable future becomes overshadowed with with anxiety-provoking unease.
To shine a bright light on our perspectives, seeking out the best possible outcome, and putting faith and energy in to pursuing that beautiful prize greatly increases the probability of success without even having to make the first move.
Our minds are more powerful than we can ever imagine.
We all have the ability to damn ourselves from the beginning by believing the worst will happen...
We can confidently have faith in ourselves and our individual greatness from the get-go.
Sometimes we need that "It's all going to be okay" push of positive energy from someone we love and trust to bolster our potential.
But, how wonderful would it be if we could each start from within and be our own greatest source of positive reinforcement?
Saturday, September 22, 2012
We tell ourselves we are bad and hold on to that badness, unwilling to forgive ourselves.
We feel guilty for not always doing the right things or not treating others as we should.
OK, I understand feeling bad for wronging someone.
Or taking a toy from a baby.
Or tripping a stranger and running away.
But, for eating a cookie??
Please, we have enough to criticize ourselves for.
Who's the jerk that vindicated the eating of delicious foods like a big juicy cheeseburger or a hot fudge sundae with all the fixings? I'd like to have a word or two with this person. Clearly, said person gets off on sucking joy out of life.
Associating "badness" with foods is a wasted, negative-energy filled effort.
There is nothing innately angelic about sitting down to a slice of fruit as opposed to a slice of cake. The only thing that happens when we label certain foods as "good" or "bad" is that we label ourselves as "good" or "bad" for eating them.
This goes hand in hand with being on a diet (I shudder at the word, itself) that has restrictions that define what is and isn't allowed. The dieter is then subject to many opportunities to cheat if the diet isn't followed, thus feeling the resulting guilt from eating the bad items.
So much negativity!
I ate a french fry the other day. I do not think myself to be a bad person.
We are responsible for how we treat our bodies. The hope is that we choose foods that support optimal health while also allowing ourselves to have foods that have little nutritional value, but great enjoyment value.
We live in a world where these nutritionally-devoid, pure enjoyment-value foods exist.
Instead of barring ourselves from them and creating feelings of guilt when we succumb to their allure, why not just accept their deliciousness and learn to coexist with them?
Step one is to remove labels of "goodness" or "badness" from foods.
Step two is to honor our health by feeding it the wholesome nutrition it needs.
Step three is to be gentle with ourselves and allow ourselves the wiggle room to enjoy those "other" foods for the pure sake of enjoying them.
We have enough to combat in this world. Let's leave the negative energy to the wars, crimes and offenses.
Food is too delicious for all that negativity.
Friday, September 21, 2012
He is happiness.
He is Snoopy.
I find that simple things have great potential for life impact due to their vastly open capacity for interpretation. Enter, Snoopy, the cartoon dog from the Peanuts Gang.
Funny how a simple black and white cartoon character from the 1950's that speaks no words can be an influential figure to 24 year old me, today. It's hard not to smile when you think of his trademark happy dance complete with piano tune in the background.
Everyone, today, is busy. Everyone is stressed. Everyone has an endless to-do list and no one has enough time to do it all.
We have become accustomed to being tired and frazzled. Antidepressants and self-medicating tactics are turned to far more often that they should be. We numb out the pain and demands of life and have no energy left to be happy.
We don't smile and dance nearly as much as we should.
Perhaps, it may not always be appropriate to break out in a full out dance, but even when life is the crappiest of crap, we have the ability to break a smile across our faces.
Life only puts things in our path that we are capable of handling. Sometimes these things seem so monumentally impossible to deal with, smiling and laughing about it initially is the only way to take the first stab at it. It takes the edge off. Try it.
But, how could we smile? There are bills to pay, places to be, deadlines to meet... What is there to be happy about?
Snoopy needs no reason to be happy. Why do we?
Thursday, September 20, 2012
It was customary to mock and laugh at that closing statement, especially since the tone of his voice was always so stoic and robotic with little to no warmth. It also didn't help that he was a disciplinarian that was somewhat feared among the students.
Hearing it every morning, five days per week, for four school years, I must have subconsciously absorbed it; it popped in to my head, seemingly out of nowhere the other day even after being out of high school for years now. Today, though, I look back at those five words in a completely different light.
Make it a great day.
Not, "Have a great day." or the more informal, "Have a good one."
MAKE IT a great day.
It was as if he was empowering us all to choose the fate of our own days, hoping we would opt for the good over the bad. Maybe he was.
It would be nice if "bad days" didn't exist. It would be wonderful if every day we felt healthy, motivated, energetic, positive. If only everything was always rainbows, glitters and unicorns.
But, it's not.
And that's reality.
The bad days do help us to appreciate the good days much more, in comparison. After all, "the sweet is never as sweet without the sour," to quote "Vanilla Sky."
Here's the beauty of the Dean's sign off message though...
To a certain extent, we all have the power to choose to make our day as great as it can be.
Yes, there are limitations on what we can control in the level of greatness possible in our days. We can't control the weather, the jerks on the highway that should have their licenses revoked, the clerk with the attitude or the mosquito that chooses to bite you on the nose on the day of your blind date.
But, what we can control is our perception.
I've said it before: change your perception, change your experience.
Look through rose colored glasses and the world seems much more beautiful. Positive energy is a powerful force and one that is far underutilized. If we see our glass half full, the empty portion isn't just a lack of filling- it's a space for opportunity.
It would be wonderful if everything in life always lined up so perfectly as to never have a bad day to suffer through. Wouldn't it be just peachy if every day, "goodness" just fell on our laps? Don't you envy those that seem to never have an "off" day? Those that are surrounded in and radiate positive energy? Lucky them...
But, does luck really have anything to do with it?
We could all benefit from being the positive force we want to attract in to our lives. We could all do well to laugh more and take the little things less seriously. We could all feel so much better about the lemons we are handed in life if we just learned to breathe, smile, respond instead of react, and make more lemonade... or at least make it a great day.