What Are You Reading- On the Bookshelf

I have some time these days, during our Covid19 lockdown. Not that much more than I did before, given I’m taking care of 5 year old twins. But there is some time now that the kids can entertain themselves so I’m catching up on some oldies but goodies.

I have a friend, Hema, who posted at the beginning of this year that she intends to go deep on all her programs and books rather than wider and keep buying new books and spreading herself too thin.

I think this is a great idea. I’ve spent a great deal of money on programs and books I haven’t finished. So I too am finally starting (and finishing!) books that have long been on my bookshelf or my Kindle.

The one I’m reading right now is the Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. In the past, I might have read the book but not done the exercises. Now, I’m chapter 6 of 10 and I’ve actually done the previous chapters’ exercises. It’s been enlightening.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I do pray daily to have the veil lifted from my eyes so that I can know the truth and be shown my blind spots. So this book is extremely helpful already, just half way through,in illuminating the way I’m denying my shadow self and rejecting and fiercely judging those who exhibit my shadow self. I love what the exercises are showing me.

Two things she said helped me really visualize the deepening process.

1 – she said that we are like castles and we have many hundreds or even thousands of rooms in ourselves. As children, we have no shame about these rooms whether they’re hateful, childish, loving, mean, funny, joyful, or selfish. We just are. And then the people in our lives tell us that some aspect of ourself is wrong and unacceptable. To survive, we turn off the light and lock the door to that room. As we age, we forget that we even had that room and hide the key. Like taking a coin when we were young and hide it. We wouldn’t remember where we had left if 30 years later, or even that we’d done it.

She quotes Gunther Bernard, “we choose to forget who we are and then forget we’ve forgotten”.

I did the exercise for the chapter and I could feel the rooms light up. Not that I know them yet but I could see and feel the lights flicker on- through the suggested visualization. Very cool. I love breakthroughs.

2- if you spot it, you’ve got it. I’m paraphrasing here, but she points out that if something really bothers us in someone else, it’s because we hate that about us. She gives a great visual that it’s like our chest is giant space for electrical outlets. For aspects of ourself that we’ve integrated, there is no charge when we ponder the concept of how the other person is acting. But for things we despise in others, it’s like there is a cord that plugs directly into our chest and we get an electrical surge whenever we think on this attribute or ponder the person.

Through her exercises, I am able to see that I’m all the things I’ve spotted and judged in others. And it’s so clear through her exercises.

I also see that the things are I truly admire in others are the flip side. I also have those qualities and attributes in myself.

I highly recommend her book and doing the exercises. You likely will find it quite illuminating to your shadow self (see what I did there? ROFL).

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A Few Ways to Make Self Isolation Work For You- Being At Home During the Coronavirus COVID-19

After a week of two of freaking out and moving from that to acceptance, I think a healthy next step is to look at what good can come of being isolated and at home. I know that for some this means a total loss of income and for other this means a total loss of cherished routines, connection, space from children and partners, and so much more. Yes, there is often much loss going on right now. But there can and should be some good things that can come from this.

I think you can look at the next 30 days (Virginia just implemented a 30 day lock down so I’m going to use that as an example). I’ve personally be social distancing for nearly two weeks already so this will be about 7 weeks of social distancing. Gulp.

#1 – Stop feeding your mind with scenarios of doom, virus statistics, and negative input without also consciously feeding it an equal amount of uplifting and positive input to help you maintain your mental health.

Of course you’re going to want to stay connected to what’s going on. But if you spend an hour on FB or Insta and an hour researching the daily statistics, then you’ll also need to spend two hours on positive input. That’s four hours a day which is nearly impossible so cut out the time you’re spending researching the doom and gloom and on social media. Instead, cut it down to one hour and then spend one hour a day on the positive angle. I suggest spending a half hour a day listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcasts where she’s helping put what’s happening into perspective through describing what the brain does in times of danger and stress and ways to reframe the problem. Highly recommend! Then find another 30 minutes of uplifting content, from Marie Forleo to Martha Beck to sitting in meditation and quieting your mind.

You can also plug into the Mystery and the Divine for 30 minutes or longer using the techniques I wrote about in this post. All of it will help your mind from going all flight or fight on you.

#2 – Set up a goal for the next 30 days that you want to accomplish.

For me, I’ve decided that because I can no longer head out and do my daily yoga, I will use this next 30 days to build up my home practice.

I’ll be honest in that, although I’ve spent years practicing yoga, I don’t actually have any of the pose sequences memorized. I just rely on my teachers to guide me and keep me moving. But now, I’m going to learn a 90 minute sequence by heart so that I can have the sequences memorized when I return to group classes when this ends. I’ll start with surya namaskara A, then B, then C (the sun salutations), then some balancing poses, some stretching poses and end with shivasana.

I love balancing half moon and wounded deer poses so I’ll be sure those and some of my faves and my least faves are included.

I have some old injuries and I’m going to add in some strengthening routines so I can strengthen and stretch my core muscles, including my core, my psoas, my hip flexors. A recent visit to a physical therapist revealed that I haven’t been engaging my transverse abdonminis muscle (TVA) so I’m going to slow down with my yoga and exercise routines to ensure I’m engaging my TVA.

I’m also going to prioritize ensuring healthy eating habits because I know that I have a tendency to eat out of stress and boredom. So even if I don’t lose any weight over the next month, I can at least not gain weight.

#3- Notice What Habits and Mindsets You Have That No Longer Serve You

So I’ve begun to dig into the positives that can be revealed by this time of slowing down. I see how much I’ve rushed around in my life trying to get the kids here, this shopping done there, and meet self-imposed deadlines. And none of it was required. I see that even when this is over I can slow down and let some of the busy-ness go.

What have you noticed about your life that you can see changing?

Yes, this quarantine can have some positive outcomes too, (besides the health one).

Hugs to us all.

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Your Brain on Social Media (especially during the coronavirus situation)

School of fish in the Melbourne Aquarium As the coronavirus takes up more of social media and in our lives, a lot of people are finding themselves on their phones and in their apps a lot more than before. And a lot of the data and posts are of doom and gloom. This is a perfect storm and invitation for your mind to get stirred up and then addicted to the drama and danger being presented by the media, the stock market, by your friends.

This post is intended to help you remember that your brain is literally designed to focus on danger signals, that your brain makes up stories in the absence of an alternative narrative, and that you don’t have to believe your thoughts. I hope this post also helps you recognize when you’re in the middle of a thought storm and how to detach from it and to give you ideas about how to calm down and get centered despite what’s going on around you.

Remember that our brains are designed to focus on danger signals. That is how it saves our lives. But danger is supposed to be a short-lived experience, not a slow, long-winded, building tsunami of a disaster that lasts week or months. But with social media and the internet, we now can see the information coming from China long before the coronavirus officially arrived on our shores. The brain fixates and makes up stories about the danger. [Note, I’m not saying that there isn’t danger or that what is happening isn’t true- just that your brain is making up future stories for you to fear]. The stories your brain is making up, about how someone in family will get sick, you’ll lose your job, the economy will tank, and on and on. That MAY be true in the future. But it’s likely not true now. And worrying about a future that may or may not arrive keeps you out of calm, presence, and coming from a place of fear and lack rather than calm and clear.

You don’t have to believe your thoughts. The first step is detaching from your thoughts. Notice what is happening in your brain. What thoughts are compulsively coursing through your mental screen? There is a circumstance: the coronavirus is novel and is likely in your country and your locality. How you think about that is entirely up to you. On the one hand, you can think fearful thoughts and feel and act fearful. Or you can think calm thoughts and feel calm and peaceful.

As examples: fearful thoughts: the coronavirus is going to rampage through my country. Millions will die. The economy will tank. There’s no good options here. Resulting fearful emotions: ahhh, this is horrible and I have to do something so I’m going to spend all my time looking at the data for virus, buy more than I need to, and drink and eat too much to help me feel better about my scary thoughts and emotions.

Calm thoughts: the coronavirus is going spread through my country, like all countries. I will learn what I need to in this momentand know that sooner or later this will pass. And there is little about this I can control so I will accept what is, in this moment, in this moment, and in this moment. Resulting calm emotions: presence, loving acceptance of what is right now.

You can also use this time to learn about how your brain starts to engage your flight or fight system and how to detach from this state. The easiest way to understand how your brain and body are reacting is to notice your breath. Is your breath shallow and fast? Are you having a harder time than usual catching your breath?

If so, then take the time to deepen and length your breath. Breathe in deeply, perhaps to a count of 6 and then focus on lengthening the out breath, to perhaps a count of 8. Do this and feel the calm return. Keep doing it as often as is necessary.

For a few days, I’ve been buffering against my thoughts by being on social media a lot more than usual and binge watching Madame Secretary (which I’d never seen before). I caught the feeling of my brain swirling around faster and faster, like a rabid squirrel trying to get up all the trees at the same time. And the top of my skull feels hotter too, figuratively. Now that I’ve noticed this, I’ve put screen time controls on my phone and consciously spent time with my phone plugged in far from me. I can feel time slowing down, that I’m able to be much more present, and my attention span is almost a long as it has been in the past.I’ve also stopped drinking and eating to feel better. Crucially, I gave myself permission that a few days of getting used to our new normal is going to take a few days. With love and understanding, I allowed myself a few days to wallow and get a bit lost in the drama of the moment.

But I know it’s not profitable to wallow too long. Getting lost in the drama doesn’t help me be a better parent to my kids, a better partner, or make better choices about what to do with our free time. Walking in the woods, jigsaw puzzles, and finally learning to play the piano come to mind as better ways to spend the passing time.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, remember to be in that situation. Not one created by your mind about a near future that hasn’t yet come to pass. You’ll know that you’re creating a story about some imagined future because you’ll be stressed. True emergencies don’t evoke stories. In true emergencies, all you have is the moment . Believe in your power to effect change in the moment you have, which is to accept this moment, this moment, and this moment. Plan ahead as needed and then let it go.

Above all, be kind to yourself as you process changes. Blaming yourself or being cruel won’t help anyone. Keep detaching from your thoughts and breathing deeply, as necessary.

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Coronavirus and Meditation- keep meditating

Keep up with your meditation practice, especially now. And it is a perfect time to re/start one if you haven’t sat in meditation recently.

Last night I spent a full hour on Facebook, researching the coronavirus, looking at projections and trying to find data on the US infection rate and projections, where I could. An hour.

This morning I woke up and was immediately seized with the obsession to get on social media or my phone to find out what’s changed in the last 8 hours. I thought, “there’s no way I can meditate this morning”. My mind feels like a barrel of monkeys, rather than my normal monkey mind thinking about all that there is to do.

I then realized this is the perfect time to meditate and ground myself. This is exactly the moment to meditate. My mind is trying to spiral out of control in fear, obsession, and worry over things I can’t control.

And so I sat. At first I thought of the R0 figures- what is the R0 of the flu versus Covid-19, the mortality of Covid-19 in Italy and South Korea, and in China. Round and round my mind went until I caught myself not being present. I have long since dropped any shame or surprise at how my mind can get trapped in recursive thinking. I just noticed that I was no longer present and centered myself again.

As I mentioned in this post the other day, there are many techniques to center yourself. I prefer this one. I close my eyes. I then focus with my mind’s eye on my third eye (the space between my eyes, a few inches back) and turn my actual, real eyes up to the third eye (eyes closed). I think feel for my dantian and I’m immediately grounded.

I sat for 57 minutes today. Not my longest by about 15 minutes but I was able to stay for 57 minutes.

Now, after the session, I can still feel how grounding my session was. My obsession to get on my phone has passed and I’m writing this blog now. My stress and compulsions seem to have evaporated.

Don’t panic. Don’t stress. Don’t fear. Instead sit in meditation. Get grounded. Do what you can to plan for a quarantine. Act on what you can control. And then let the rest go.

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How To Manifest a Million Dollars by Inviting in the Sacred

Lotus flower

Want to earn a million dollars? But feel icky about it because it doesn’t feel spiritual? Feeling super selfish about your desire for more money?

This is often a tough one for people who are looking to make the world a better place,who want to slow down and make a soulful connection with others in their community and the world.

But wow, a million bucks would really be helpful. The lure of money continues to pull at you. I get it because it’s true. Money does solve a lot of problems. Need to eat? Money helps you buy food. Need some health care? Money helps you afford the care you and your family needs. I’m sure not many are conflicted about that level of income. It’s the idea of more many than you “need”. But here are a few different viewpoints on money to consider.

New Idea #1: In order to feel selfish and icky about money, you have to believe at some level that money and abundance is a zero sum game. In order words, for you to have a million dollars, someone else wouldn’t have it. This doesn’t have to be the case. By allowing for true abundance, you can intend for all beings to feel and have abundance as well. As they say, you can’t help others be and feel abundant by intending a lack of abundance in your own life.

New Idea #2: Be a conduit for abundance. Recognize that you can earn and give away some portion of your income. Let’s say you decide to give away 20% of your income. The more you make the more you can give away. You can also set up “your number” that you want to make each year and then give away the rest. So let’s say your number is $1M. Each year you will keep $1M out of all you make. And if you earn $10M a year, you’d be giving away 90% of your income. It’s definitely a different perspective.

#3 Commit to being an amplifier of the Divine’s abundance. For me, intending abundance in my life, especially about large amounts of money, feels wonderful when I also visualize all the good I’ll be doing with it. For example, the jobs I would be providing by hiring people to work on my house, hiring people to work with me, giving money away to charity, and following my intuition about how to save and spend it.

I follow Tosha Silver and she has a great book called, It’s Not Your Money. And she helped me to really understand the concept that money is just energy that comes and goes. But it’s not my money, it’s the Divine’s. I can’t take money with me when I do and it’s not something to horde. Abundance comes to me when I’m aligned with it and it falls away when I’m not.

It’s ok to have money. Choose to be a force for good and use it wisely and lovingly.

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