yourpeacefulspace

You're okay

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Stories we tell ourselves: 

  • as soon as my bank account is at the right amount, I’ll be okay;

  • as soon as my marriage is better, I’ll be okay;

  • as soon as this health situation is resolved, I’ll be okay;

  • as soon as I find the right job, I’ll be okay;

…on and on.

We create a “conditional” sense of feeling okay. It seems all of the big deals in our life must be heading in a positive direction for us to feel fundamentally okay and have a deep sense of well-being.

I am in the midst of a tricky health situation which offers me the opportunity to wonder about how I create my experience of conditional well-being. I want to see past the stories I've created about when it's okay, to feel okay.

I want to feel okay, even when my body isn’t!

Here’s what I am playing with to ease the grip of conditional well-being. These are strategies I’ve learned over years of focusing on spirituality…you’ll recognize them.

  • I’ve added contemplation to my day, time to simply be.

  • I mediate each morning for 20 minutes.

  • When I notice my thinking is spinning out of wack, I switch to noticing what’s happening in the moment rather than rehash the past or predict the future.

  • When I notice a strong emotion, I allow myself to feel it. So, if I feel sad, I let it roll through me, and then I move on.

  • I surround myself with wise people who are further down the spiritual road than I.

So far, the most helpful understanding that has come from engaging in these behaviors is...I am not body. I am much bigger than this body, I am (as are you) as vast as the universe! My body is simply where my soul is hanging out to have a human experience…I find this comforting and mind-blowingly exciting.

I am not suggesting you do what I do, you have your own wisdom and spiritual understandings, but I would certainly be happy to have a chat about this if you’d like.

Sending you love.
Nikki

Pockets of Peace

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Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. 

According to a recent Gallop poll, “In the United States, about 55 percent of adults said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day”, compared with just 35 percent globally”…this makes Americans among the most stressed people in the world. Not exactly the kind of thing we want to excel in. 

Your personal stress meter. 

One way to think about stress is in zones of red, yellow and green. Red, high stress, yellow on guard, and green calm. We likely move in and out of each zone several times a day. As you might guess, it’s good for our bodies and our minds to spend more time in the green zone, feeling calm.

Dr. Rick Hanson explains, “Green is the resting state, the home base, of the brain and body, characterized by activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, repair and refueling of bodily systems, and a peaceful, happy, and loving mind. In Green, we are usually benevolent toward ourselves, others, and the world.” So, more time in the green zone is good for us.

Sometimes we worry that it will take too much time and energy to address stress…another problem to solve…something else on our to-do list. 

Want to feel more green??? 

But here’s some good news, by building in small pockets of peace during the day, you can rest in a state of calm more frequently. Consider adding one or more of these short, easy strategies to create moments of peace each day.

  1. Focus on your breath. Inhale for several seconds then exhale slowly…(twice as long as your inhale), this actually helps your nervous system calm. You only need to do this for about a minute to bring your body back into the green zone.

  2. Pause before launching. Pause before you get out of bed, get out of the car, stand up from your desk, or walk into a meeting. Pause and take a deep, relaxing breath. Create the habit of taking a deep, relaxing breath each time you transition from one activity or place to the next.

  3. Be present…here & now. This is particularly helpful when you find yourself caught in the past or the future. Be in the present moment and remind yourself that everything is OK in this moment. It’s natural to re-hash and regret things you’ve said or done in the past…once you’ve done what you can to repair, there’s little else to do. Similarly, we don’t have much control over the future, and come to find out we’re not so good at predicting what will happen. So come back to now and notice your feet on the floor and the rhythm of your breath. 

BTW ongoing coaching may be a necessary piece of the puzzle to bridge the gap between knowing what to do when you feel stressed and actually regularly practicing what’s good for you. Please email me if you’d like to explore the infinite pathways to creating a more peaceful life.

Coming together and falling apart

Spring…falling apart.

Spring…falling apart.

Hello there,

I want to share with you a paragraph of deep wisdom from Pema Chodron. Pema is a Buddhist nun and teacher who's writing is approachable and very relevant. You needn't be a Buddhist to feel the truth of her message below.

Making Room
"Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." https://pemachodronfoundation.org


I am a fixer...from waaaay back and the idea that perhaps there is a rhythm of coming together and falling apart reminds me that not all brokenness needs to be fixed. But rather, there is a grace and peace in allowing what's happening to happen (it's going to anyway) and to notice that perhaps, the most important thing for me to do is to be with the brokenness, because brokenness is part of the whole beautiful cycle. 

Is there something in your life that seems to be falling apart? Reach out if you'd like support to make room for what needs to happen. 

Sending you love,
Nikki

Be your own expert

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Hello there!

I've been out of commission for several weeks and in my downtime I've noticed a couple of things:

  • Sometimes I see myself as a self-improvement project; and

  • Sometimes I outsource my power and wisdom. 

Advice on Facebook, magazine covers, TV, YouTube videos, from friends and colleagues rolls by. 

I read about what foods to eat, how to schedule time, what to wear, how to advance in a career, how to be in close relationships, on and on and on...

It seems my self-improvement tendencies can become a full time obsession. 

Sometimes I grasp. Grasp at the new and improved version of myself. And while changing my own behaviors in order to live a healthier, more spiritual and expansive life is cool...the notion that I need to FIX myself, and perhaps that FIX comes from someone else, doesn't feel enlivening or true.

What's it like for you? Do you feel different when you approach behavior change from a place of internal motivation and nudges...rather than look to an expert for correction?

Maybe it's helpful to recognize that we can be our own behavioral experts. Perhaps we don't need to outsource our wisdom or look to someone else for answers... AND, we've all had the positive experience of an objective partner who will offer new information, reflections and accountability.

So here's my 2-cents if you're considering behavior change: 

  • You can become the expert on how you best learn and integrate new knowledge.

  • You have your own wisdom and sometimes a coach can help you see it more easily.

  • One size does not fit all...we respond to support depending on our specific learning history and perspective.

  • Find a coach who does not position themselves as your savior or guru, but who walks along side and offers support when you ask.

Let me know what you think.

Behavior Basics, part 2.

As you learned in Behavior Basics, part 1, breaking big projects into small chunks and working in 25 minute sessions is a tested way to more easily work through big projects or seemingly difficult life changes.

The next piece of the puzzle for most of us is, where to actually begin. 

  • Where in this room should I start decluttering? 

  • Where do I start my journey to healthy eating?  

  • Where is an easy place to begin a habit of going to the gym?

  • Where to I start this job search?

The answer to all of these questions…start EASY….the best place to begin is where you WILL begin. Let that soak in. The best place to begin is where you will begin. 

Start with your sock drawer, look for healthy recipes, call two gyms to schedule tours, ask a friend to help you update your resume…small, easy steps.

If you still feel too overwhelmed to begin…look for an even easier place to begin…take a step back and wonder, “what’s the smallest, easy step I can take to actually move forward?”

Here's how this strategy has worked for me:

  • I began my PhD by getting clear on the application requirements.

  • I started to downsize from a big house to a small house by gathering cardboard boxes.

  • I started a meditation practice by attending my first group mediation class.

  • I started my own business by dumping my ideas onto poster paper.

These were the first steps that mades sense to me. I bet you have your own examples of times when you made a big change in your life by starting with a small step.  

Step after step moves us through amazing, life changing adventures. 

Sometimes we get attached to things.

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The lemons.

I have been carting these lemons around the house. When I go to bed, they sit on my nightstand. When I work in my office, they are near. When we eat a meal, the bowl is on the table. An amulet of sorts to ward off the cold, snowy winds. I picked these two lemons from a tree in Palm Springs last week, and I've become unreasonable attached to them. They remind me of the warm sun, playing in the pool with Sugar Bear and laughing with a dear, old friend. I get that these memories are in my mind, not the lemons. I know even when the bowl is empty, I'll still have the memories of our trip. But for now, I want the lemons nearby. 

Maybe you have a similar relationship with your grandfather's bowling trophies, a tea cup from your aunt or a dining room set from your parents. We look at these memory triggering possessions and feel attached to them, as though they carry the love and connections we miss. 

Just to say, it's okay to keep things that trigger sweet memories as long as you have room for them and they don't add stress to your life. Also note that having more items from your grandmother will not keep you more connected to her, a few lovely things, sitting out where you can appreciate them, will do the trick. 

Everything in your home should make your life a little better in some way. So, enjoy your things that prompt sweet feelings and let go of those that don't.

Create a new groove...in your brain


By using our attention we can support ourselves to create new habits and stick with them more reliably.

We can actually come to enjoy doing the things that are good for us in the long run. Because we enjoy the behavior, we don’t need to rely on inconsistent motivation...did I just hear a collective sigh of relief??

We can use our attention to re-train our brain, and basically, here's how: 

Step 1. Have the experience of what's good. Notice what you enjoy about your experience and you’ll actually retrain your brain to notice the good more frequently. It's not about rose colored glasses, it's about truly noticing what's already good.

Step 2. Enrich the feeling of the good experience. Stick with it, make the feeling even bigger, help it go deeper, help it linger. 

Step 3. Absorb the good feelings of the experience. Imagine you're a sponge. See if you can notice the goodness soaking in your body. Give yourself a little hug for making a choice that supports your higher good and future self. 

Sure, this takes practice and often some support, but I’ve worked through this with many clients and use it myself…I can easily say, it makes behavior change easier! 

Bonus...you just feel better when you're focusing on the good stuff that's true in your life. 

A snippet of Lea's story

When Lea and I began our coaching, she was interested in simplifying her life, letting go of the things in her home that no longer served her. She also wanted to create habits such as dealing with the mail, keeping her kitchen tidy and completing one task before moving to a new task. 

As she practiced noticing what was already goodenriching these feelings and absorbing them, it became easier for her to appreciate herself for the efforts she was making. Over time, the behaviors that felt so difficult in the beginning, became easier and even enjoyable

You can do this too. Reach out if you want to learn more about how.

Move from "should" to "want to"

You may have noticed…some of us have a much harder time gathering our grit and doing things that don't seem fun. It feels like a tough slog to get to the gym, eat healthy, declutter, deal with our mail, etc...

You might be relieved to know, there are natural differences in the bump of neuro chemicals we get when we do something good for us…so, if you struggle with follow through in several areas of your life, you may need to be more focused on letting the good feeling of making a helpful choice, soak in.

I seen this so many times, (and done it myself) we procrastinate doing these "good for us behaviors” and then, layer on self criticism because we procrastinated. Geez, a super unhelpful, double whammy.

There are ways to shift our attention away from what we're not doing and focus on creating a good life. We can create new habits and routines, leaving procrastination behind, and harsh self judgement behind. 

You can create the life you want...(even it doesn't seem possible right now). 

You can learn to love the things that are good for you. 

You can move important behaviors from the "should" column, to the "want to" column. It’s absolutely possible.