Laying Low

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“That each should in his house abide, Therefore was the world so wide.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Sometimes although we feel we want to keep doing what we normally do, whether it’s a specific workout routine, going out to enjoy the company of friends, eating and drinking the things we love, we are almost forced not to and do something different. Why is this you may ask? Our bodies tell us otherwise.

In a lot of cases, our bodies are smarter than we are and we don’t give them their due credit. Although we may not ‘agree’ with our body, we should listen to it for it can tell us things our mind will not. This can be experiencing anything from physical pains to a physical reaction, getting sick, to spontaneously having an aversion to something we normally used to do regularly. I used just ‘work through’ injuries for example when I was younger. Now I kind of question this attitude I used to hold dear.

It seemed if it wasn’t one thing, it was something else that I had to deal with injury-wise from the hard training in martial arts and pushing myself daily in my workouts. I rarely if ever took some time off to really allow myself time to heal, or ‘lay low’ even in the midst of a lot of pain. Sometimes this pain came as mental fatigue as well when I felt something should have went a different way or if I felt I ‘plateaued’ for example.

It’s tough because we feel like we are missing out, or like if we don’t do something we might regress. This is especially true if you are practically addicted to working out and physical activity like I am. It’s very easy to get angry at yourself and your body. This can also happen with the food we are so accustomed to eating. In order to heal, sometimes our bodies need a break from our usual diet to focus more on healing foods and medicines so they can really do their job. lonely house winter

I have learned to let these types of feelings go more and more though. It just means we can and should focus our energy elsewhere, at least for the time being while we are allowing our bodies to heal themselves. A good place to focus this energy is to go inside.

If we can do that, we can dissipate any kind of annoying or negative feelings to practically nil. In fact, we can rather quickly start feeling much better about ourselves. It really can open us up to new opportunities to do things differently as well, learn more about ourselves and discover new concepts and ideas we may have been putting off and always found interesting.

The fact that this is also winter time also helps. This is the best time of year to stay in and ‘lay low’ to not only heal on various levels, but to work on yourself in a more internal way. Just as nature and many animals withdraw for the cold winter months, when we do it as well it feels more natural for us on a deeper level as this is the natural ebb and flow of things.

Meditation is one of the best ways to going inside and delve deeper into ourselves. It also promotes healing on many levels. There are many other methods we can play with and throw into the mix, but meditation should be one of the core foundations to this process. Also practicing chi gong and different types of breathing exercises can be done in almost any state and this also can accelerate the healing process and goes hand in hand with any introspective and healing practice.

So in the midst of this cold winter, I highly encourage you to go ‘inside’ and lay low if you don’t feel well or just not right. Listen to your body and do some research to find a practice that resonates with you or resdiscover an old one you may have been neglecting.

Cultivating Calm

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Many of us often find ourselves in states where our minds keep racing, we can’t relax, our bodies are tense and tend to be on high alert and we find ourselves on edge more than we like. We wake up frequently over the night or have a hard time winding down and falling asleep.

There will always be stressors and pressures, but we have to remember that how we react and the impact is up to us. As Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it.”

We do not have to resign ourselves to feeling on edge or letting outside forces, people or circumstances get to us. This does not have to be an accepted (or even expected) way of living. It is not a badge of honor and it does not have to be chalked up to “this is life.”  We all have the ability to cultivate calm by practicing healthy techniques.

We have all experienced those moments of feeling that everything is right and good in our worlds, where we feel at peace and content and where the constant noise in our heads is silenced. They can be quite fleeting, but they do give us a glimpse into being calm. But through a conscious choice we can learn to emphasize those feelings in our lives. We can teach ourselves ways to achieve peace of mind from the inside, and within ourselves. Here are a few “best practices” that you can incorporate into life. zen landscape

Turn down the stimuli

There is a lot of noise in our world—constant messages and alerts, 24/7 feeds of information, traffic, etc. But you can make a conscious decision to dial it down. Step away from the TV or computer, get off of social media and carve out time to remove yourself from crowds and noisy places.

Get Outside

Getting fresh air and some sunshine does a body and mind good. Take a break even if for five or ten minutes to get outside. Take deep breaths and simply feel the sun and air.

Turn up the Beauty

There are things that are beautiful to us—flowers, a picture, music, etc. Incorporate into your environment some things that capture your senses and lower your blood pressure

Do Something You Enjoy

Finding and doing something you enjoy transitions your thoughts away from the stress. The “something” does not have to be something big or expensive. In fact, the simple things can make the biggest impact. For some it’s baking or cooking, for some reading, for some taking a hike or walk and for others just sitting in a favorite lounge chair in the sun.

Create a Mantra

When you start to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, worried—when you feel that your calm is fading—the combination of deep breathing and repeating a calming mantra can help you reset and bring you back to center.

Smile and Say Thank You

You don’t have to perpetuate (or project) your feeling of anxiety, stress or tiredness. As you move through your day and encounter others be polite, greet people with a smile and say thank you.

Visualize a “Safe Place”

Sometimes it may be difficult to break away, practice your mantra or do a favorite activity. When you are in this position, steal away to the bathroom, your car or an empty room and for a few minutes visualize a place that you love, where you feel safe, peaceful and relaxed. Give yourself permission to stay there for a few minutes to bring calm back.

I’m sure there are other suggestions that may resonate with you. The key is to build your toolbox for cultivating calm and put the tools into practice.

When in Doubt

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When one door is closed, don’t you know other is open?” – Bob Marley, Coming In From The Cold


Something that seems to effect most people, even those of us that consider ourselves positive people and that strive to think positively as much as possible is doubt. It seems to creep in on us most in times of stress, or when things are just not going right. This can have a ripple effect and affect our decision making and mood for the rest of the day, if not more even.

There can be many causes for doubt to enter our thinking, such as something not going your way, an expectation of something that does not come to pass, your body seemingly betraying you (getting sick for example), and there are of course others. Doubt can lead not only to further doubt that can pile up and weigh you down, but to even more ominouse things such as beating yourself up and depression if we let it take hold and take over.

One of the first things, that may seem counter-intuitive almost to combat doubt, is getting out of our own way. What I mean by this is first off remembering that you are human and this stuff can happen even to the best of us. Sometimes one of the most effective things we can do is to just lean back and not do anything in particular but observing what is happening.

From here, our higher Self can take over which is not caught up in emotion and we can see things more clearly.  Also we expend no energy doing this, so it is quite effortless and efficient. Doubt in a lot of cases, can be a reflection of what we think others may be thinking of us, or what we think the world is reflecting back on us. We may even start blaming things outside of our own power for our current doubtful situation. This is easy to do also, but counter-productive! water fall into pond

But if you can be aware of this, you can see the negativity you may be directing towards others or the outside world. The more you do this, the easier it is to be doubtful about yourself. Accepting responsibility that you are the only one who can make that change back to a healther mindset will come naturally if you can get out of your own way and see that you are not only the cause but also the solution.

You have to stick with yourself and believe in yourself, this is the only way. No matter how bad something may seem, if you can pull back a bit and take a deep breath, you’ll realize it’s most likely not the end of the world and there is a solution within although it may not be visible at the moment. Sometimes the answer may be not doing something as opposed to doing something. Be open to changing your way of thinking and even how you approach your lifestyle.

Talking to a friend can help as well, even if the conversation is not about the subject at hand weighing on your mind. Sometimes just stepping away from the matter mentally and discussing other totally unrelated things can open up new doorways to seeing things differently even if your friend doesn’t know it. You may also not notice it at first either… the universe works in strange ways like this sometimes.

Taking in to account also the good things you have in your life that you can be grateful for is also a powerful tool to not only help turn the tide on doubt, but will make you feel better and help refocus your energy and heal your mind/body. It may not seem easy at first, especially when in the midst of having doubt, but this is important and more powerful than you think because it will take you out of the vicious cycle that doubt can be.

Also, writing down your thoughts, especially the self-talk in how you talk to yourself in times of doubt can be eye-opening and powerful. Then Re-writing what you might be saying that is putting you in doubt in to a positive light of what great things you would rather see manifest in your life is the next thing you can do.

Undertand that your life, thoughts and mind-set ebbs and flows naturally just like the cycles of nature and doubt can be used as an opportunity for you to see things from a greater perspective in the grand scheme of things.

Unseen Manipulation

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[The victors of WW II] introduced an all-pervasive, ultra-powerful society-shaping drug. This drug was the first of a growing group of high-technology drugs that deliver the user into an alternate reality by acting directly on the user’s sensorium, without chemicals being introduced into the nervous system. It was television. No epidemic or addictive craze or religious hysteria has ever moved faster or made as many converts in so short a time.”  — Terrence McKenna, Food of the Gods


We are living in a most interesting time, some call it the information age. But beyond that, the global changes that are occurring at this time on national, political, international, physical and spiritual levels is truly amazing. It really is an amazing time to be alive.

In this time of unparalleled access to information, some of which can liberate and free your mind (if used correctly) that was once hidden, there also is an abundance of deceptive and distorted information. We are also being bombarded with electromagnetic radiation and signals on a grand scale. Most of these signals are unseen to the naked eye, but that does not mean that they are not there. We can’t see all of the x-rays, radio waves, microwaves, infrared light, ultraviolet light, and gamma radiation etc., amongst others that permeate the world around us.

I find it interesting how much we humans rely on our sense of sight. It seems like it is the most primary and dominant of the five senses that we use daily. It almost seems like we take our other senses much more for granted as they kind of fall into a backdrop compared to our vision, which brings us vivid colors, the faces of both strangers and those so familiar to us, and the road ahead which we could not navigate otherwise.

Our seemingly most relied on sense of sight, as wondrous as it is and what it allows for us to see, can only see a small sliver of the total electromagnetic spectrum, as the visible part only makes up a small fraction of it.  To be exact, since less than 1% of all light that reaches us is in the visible spectrum, it comes out to about .0035% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

Taking this into account, it’s not so hard to believe that most of what is around us is unseen, although when we don’t see anything we tend to think nothing is there. Electronic devices of all kinds surround us now more than ever. Because of this, it’s easier now more than ever to be located, tracked and monitored. In this age of convenience, this can be a great thing when emergencies arise, or when we are even stranded somewhere.

On the other hand, these same devices can be used to invade our privacy, predict our behavior and make us vulnerable to attacks, both physical and virtual. It’s important that now more than ever before that we understand the scope of our own behavior when using all the new gadgets and technology available to us so we don’t fall prey to outside influences (that are both known to be harmful and even those that claim they are not).

This is such a fast time we live in now, for example if you look back only 15 years or so, cell phones were not nearly as common as they are now. Almost everyone has one now, even kids! We are almost guinea pigs in the sense that we are not even sure what this constant exposure to cellular phones is having in terms of a physical effect on our bodies.

Again we are told they are completely safe, but studies have shown that over-exposure can be harmful, especially to developing brains. Just ask yourself how you feel after being on a long phone call with your cell phone, or when you are in front of a computer screen or tv for too long. Personally I feel a negative effect as I start to get antsy, my head begins to hurt and I just feel the need to put it down and walk away.

There is only so much you can do it seems to protect yourself from all kinds of unseen manipulation both direct or indirect that occurs in this day and age, (unless you are living off the grid or close to it, or are a hermit) but we can take steps to mitigate the many harmful effects to our person, both physically, virtually and mentally. Awareness is key, just like it is and always has been when it comes to stopping being manipulated directly from a physical one on one or group dynamic interaction.

This unseen manipulation can sometimes be staring us right in our face, a prime example of this is television which was noted in the quote to start this post. Many people trust much of what they see on television regarding the news and other things such as history and documentaries etc.  There is a reason why they call it ‘programming’.

Remember like anything else, you now have the power to not only fact check, but also have access to different perspectives on topics both national and global thanks to the internet, foreign and alternate news networks, channels, websites, etc.

Getting back to nature more often, like experiencing old growth forests, natural waterfalls, gardening, camping out in nature, and just getting closer to the earth in general and disconnecting as much as possible is also a good way to break from the high tech norm and fill our bodies with much needed negative ions (yes I said negative ions).

Like a good martial artist who develops a physical and mental regimen to ward off attack and defend their person, in this high tech era, the use of new tools, access to a broader range of information than ever, and developing our awareness so we can protect ourself on a level beyond what most others are doing will serve us well.

‘Re-finding’ Your Way

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In the twists and turns of life, sometimes we feel we either are right on course for where we think we need to be or we may feel like something is missing, or even that we have maybe lost our way. Hopefully you feel like you are ‘right where you need to be’, but if you feel otherwise, don’t despair because you are not alone and you can get back on track.

The strangest part about feeling this way is that it can be hard to pin down exactly why you do. Some people may even say they feel ‘depressed’ or just feel out of sorts. I know when I was younger, I found myself often in a state of melancholy and never really knew why. I had a loving family and people that cared about me, was healthy and athletic, played sports, had a lot of friends, I wasn’t poor, etc., and so I really had no real reason to feel this way.

I only mention this about myself because I can relate when someone tells me they feel out of sorts and they can’t explain it, I was like this for years. But I would shift, sometimes happy and filled with wonder, and sometimes the opposite. I didn’t know where I was going in life although I had a lot going for me. The smallest thing could seemingly change my mood, and ultimately my course, almost like a leaf at the mercy of the wind.

Sometimes it hits me as an adult, being much older now almost like it did way back then. But if I look at the big picture, take a deep breath and a step back, I see that I was happy coming into this world, as a child the world was full of wonder and limitless possibilities. We can recapture this in our current state, but only if we consciously choose so. It has to be a daily decision to do it. And if we do, it will be the same and at the same time not the same, (the feeling that is) because we are always changing, evolving, and growing as human beings. seasonal-duallity-tree

But the feeling is what counts. So how do we arrive back at the feeling of knowing we are on the right path or Way? Re-finding your Way is always a rediscovery of yourself and who you think you are. It’s natural to lose yourself, life can become seemingly so complicated and there are just too many variables sometimes to avoid this from happening. So recognizing this, is the first step in getting back on track.

An important thing to remember also is that you can simplify the basics that you need to and that there were things you have experienced in the past that you felt gave you purpose, that motivated you to move with energy and excitement. We can reclaim or revisit these ‘things’, whatever they may be to help us get back on course. We can try some new activities or hobbies we’ve been putting off as well to help start to shift and see things differently.

Sometimes maybe we need to just take a break. I have found that for me personally, taking a hiatus from something you are so used to doing can help tremendously and gives me fresh perspective. Remember, you are not obligated to do anything. You are only obligated to yourself, and sometimes being a little selfish is OK. I am not saying neglect those around you that need you, just that if you are not the ‘you’, you need to be, those around you will suffer as well. So take some time for yourself if need be.

Ultimately the key to re-finding your way to where you feel ok with everything, is finding balance. The only real balance we can have control over is what we do with our bodies, how we think and our reaction to things. Letting go of controlling outcomes, and other peoples opinions and actions is a must. Some other practical things we can do daily is to go inside and out.

By inside and out, I mean doing some type of daily internal practice (meditation, affirmations, personal mantra, self-hypnosis, breathing exercises/chi kung, etc.) and some type of physical activity (calisthenics, weight training, jogging/walking, hiking, yoga, martial arts, etc.). By going ‘inside’ and ‘out’ we not only rejuvenate ourselves, but help ourselves to focus our energy and be in the moment. When we can do this, the universe naturally starts putting us back on track.


Listen to Your Body

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Something I’ve noticed about myself over time has been that my body knows what’s best for me, even better than my mind does. Our mind can be something that can be quite hard, if not impossible to pin down, but our body is always right there telling us things about ourselves and the world around us. Yet for some reason most of us tend to ignore what it tells us.

In many cases what it tells us is so concrete, ranging from a gut feeling to a twitching sensation, from a nervous reaction to a fluttering in our chests. A lot of times, our body can tell us things before we know it mentally. Sometimes we even get sick, and believe it or not it may even be for good reason. Maybe we just need to slow things down in life, and yet we don’t… but our body just shuts down sometimes and gives us no choice but to slow down and rest.

Another way our body tells us what’s best is when we get hurt. Recently, I’ve been recovering from a severely strained ligament in my right hip/leg. Being that I am so active, it’s been really difficult for me not to engage in some type of exercise or physical activity. I really haven’t had much choice but to limit myself though, because the pain has been so constant and rather intense. As I slowly recover, I can feel my mobility coming back but really it’s up to my body to tell me when I can resume the type of dynamic movements I am accustomed to doing. Again, my body knows best!

Smarter Training

If we listen to our bodies as well when we train, we can also prevent injuries from occuring, or lessen their body outlineimpact. This seems obvious, but as many athletes will tell you, they always seem to push themselves harder than they should. Our bodies will cramp up telling us we need more fluid intake for example, or the pain is not the good pain from a muscle ripping workout, but something deep in the tendons or connective tissues that tells us to let off and go easier.

I’ve ignored my body many times in the past and to my peril. From overstretching certain joints thinking I needed to push, push, push to ‘get there’ and thus causing damage… to pushing myself too hard, too fast in a run without going gradual first to allow my body to adjust and adapt because I haven’t done that particular type of run in a long time. We can be our own worst enemies, although our intentions are usually good.

Sometimes we get so used to certain workout routines that we do daily and we will do them no matter what! I’ve noticed that sometimes when I take a break for a few days (longer than I’d really like to, I admit) I come back stronger and faster than ever it seems. It’s like the break in between is what our body needs and craves for us to take things to the next level.

Greater Awareness & Safety

Our body will tell us things that can often save our life as well. From the odd feeling deep down that someone is watching us, yet we don’t see anyone (usually someone is watching us in most cases) to the gut wrenching sensation that something bad is going to happen and then it does! This is usually the case because we went on doing what we were doing without pausing and reflecting in that moment to make the necessary changes.  We usually don’t notice that we had that feeling until after the fact.

I remember, I had this really weird feeling about this party many of my friends were going to when I was much younger, it kept nagging me. I was actually on my way to the party after I got out of work late when I turned my car around and went home instead. I couldn’t explain it at the time, I just chalked it up to me being ‘not in the mood’ to really go. Turns out, a huge fight broke out and some people got really badly hurt. This has happened to me more than once, where I just felt strangely uncomfortable in a place and decided to leave instead of forcing myself to stay and turns out something bad happened later I found out.

There is a reason why they call it a gut feeling, (some will call it intuition) but it comes from your gut and your body is telling you something! So do yourself a favor and get more in tune with your body and to listening to it, you’ll thank it later.

Taking Responsibility For Your Health

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When I speak with people on the topic of health the subject of ‘responsibility’ inevitably comes up. So I put some thought into why this might be, and a key point kept coming to mind. First, I noticed that most people that do not accept responsibility for their own health usually, and if this is the case are always blaming others and things outside of themselves for their ill bodily conditions.

Saying something like – ‘oh I always get sick this time of year, or that person made me sick’ is a perfect example of something I hear quite often. I believe that if you can change your lifestyle gradually to a healthier one, which includes having a healthier mindset, you don’t have to get sick every year if you really do not want to. Most of us mentally program ourselves to get sick and we don’t even realize we are doing it.

Another example is when we see a person sneezing and coughing, and our first thought is ‘uh oh, I hope I don’t catch what he has’, or we see ads on television that the so called ‘flu season’ is upon us and we think, ‘well I’ll probably catch the flu this year sooner or later’. Thinking in this way, like so many people do is disempowering to say the least. So in addition to acting healthier – exercising, eating healthier – eliminating junk food and fast food, we can be thinking healthier as well.  A good place to start is by taking responsibility for our health, whether we are sick or feeling great.

When was the last time you felt great and you said to yourself something along the lines of ‘gee I feel so good because of me, because of who I am and what I do.’ Well if you do say things like this to yourself then congratulations because most people do not give themselves enough credit for feeling good and doing their best to lead a healthier lifestyle. So what I am saying in effect is that it works both ways, you can create your own health circumstances in life or you can act as a victim and be a slave to them. shunan-bamboo-forest-02

Once we begin to actively and consciously take credit for the good, as well as the bad health circumstances we encounter in our lives, we will begin to notice that it’s up to us to how well we would like to feel and not so much on the outside world we once thought controls us. A great question to ask yourself everyday is: how did I bring this into my life? You examine your thought processes, correct your thinking and move on.

This is much more powerful than you may think, but of course prove it to yourself.

We can consciously choose to enhance our well-being and health through adding a healthy exercise regimen to our daily routine for example. This will give both your body and mind a boost and you can easily thank yourself and praise yourself for the high, glowing feeling you get after a great workout, whether it be with weights, calisthenics, yoga, pilates, martial arts, etc., you get my point.

Doing healthier activities compound over time and become cumulative. In the case that you do get sick even though you are taking supplements to enhance your immune system, exercising regularly and eating healthy… don’t beat yourself up. Accept that you allowed yourself to be sick and nothing else. Then make up your mind to get healthier and become better, faster than ever before. Don’t get negative, and you will see that over time you will stay healthier for longer and longer periods until you do not get sick anymore.

Yes it is possible to be healthy all year around, you just need to accept that it is possible.

I personally rarely, if ever get sick and I don’t remember the last time I went to see a doctor for that matter (besides my sports related injuries!). By accepting responsibility for my health and everything that happens to me in my life, I am able to stay healthy and feel great. Of course my daily activities, internal exercises, food and vitamin/supplement intake and mindset have everything to do with this.

Pushing Through

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Life comes with it’s ups and downs, pleasure and pain… and from an athlete’s point of view training hard and relaxing and recovering. They are not mutually exclusive. Knowing your body and knowing when to allow it to rest and heal is key to pushing yourrself to higher levels of performance. This always seems to come to mind when I am sore from over-training or taking on a new exercise regimen.

What’s funny to me is that no matter how good of a level of physical shape I think I am in, if I engange in some new exercise regimen or physical activity that I have never done or haven’t done in a while, boy do I feel it the next day… and especially a day later! I had this happen to me this past weekend from doing some new types of pull up exercises (including one-armed) as well as with some other activities I haven’t done in a long time, like chopping wood… a lot of wood!

It also reminded me of how impressed I am with some of my friends and family members that do a lot of manual labor in their jobs, namely in the construction business. You gain a natural, gradual all around body strength that is different from going to the gym for example or doing calisthenics for that matter.  It’s something that you don’t seem to lose either, because your job conditions you over time. I am not saying it is necessarily better, but different. I will still put my uncle (who is a mason) up against almost anyone in an arm wrestling contest though!

Change It Up

So where am I going with this?  Simply that you need to push through your training but be smart about it. Change things up! In this case changing things up in the exercises you engage in or doing new ones altogether. Expect to be sore or more sore than usual. But this diversity in your training is a good thing. It is the antidote to one of my personal (and many other athletes and martial artists) greatest nemesis — hitting plateaus.

Monument Valley, Utah, USA

I remember in the past when I have hit plateaus in my martial arts training, I got so discouraged that I almost did not want to do anything and even wanted to miss my classes which I went to religiously. I almost get lazy about my training. I must say this is natural though and will happen to almost everyone sooner or later. It will probably even happen several times in your life.

Why does this happen? It comes from doing the same training regimen over and over, which for some people who have never done it would be quite difficult. But for you it’s relatively easy because your body is used to doing it and has adapted. Also understand, that your mind also can get run down from doing the same thing over and over and that it’s all connected (The Mind-Body Connection). By changing things up so you can push through plateaus in your training, you will re-ignite and add excitement back in to it.

Take a Break & Disconnect

The other key in this equation to pushing through is taking a break and allowing your body and mind to recover and disconnect for a few days or more if need be.  I did this the first time it happened to me in the martial arts, I felt compelled to take some time off and my teacher at the time said it was a good idea for me to do so as well. It worked wonders for me when I came back almost a week later excited to train hard again. But be careful though, this can be a slippery slope and can be used as an excuse to get lazy.

After taking a break you will be refreshed both physically and mentally.  Changing things up applies to all areas of your life really, not just your physical fitness level. It is natural to hit plateaus in your relationships, work and even in your spiritual practice as well. Most likely you will. Find new ways to push through. If you’re a martial artist for example, take on a new art that you have always been interested in but for whatever reason have not.

Another thing that can help a lot is taking a trip somewhere new or somewhere you haven’t been to in long time to disconnect from the norm and gain some new perspective in any area of your life.




The Power of Ritual to Create Positive Change & Transformation

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I thought I would touch on the subject of rituals and the power they hold to help us create positive change and transformation in our lives. Ritual, by definition as to what I am referring to is:  a formal ceremony or series of acts that is always performed in the same way or an act or series of acts done in a particular situation and in the same way each time. An old saying in the martial arts is that ‘repetition is the mother of all skill’.  Performing a daily ritual is in a sense the best illustration of this and it need not be formal by any means.

So where am I going with this and what does this have to do with enhancing your health and wellness? Well to start, if you perform a healthy daily ritual or series of healthy rituals such as a particular workout regimen or healthy eating and drinking habits you can dramatically impact your life in positive way. Rituals can be very powerful because they in a sense force us to be consistent, and with consistency comes results.

I touched upon this subject in an earlier post I wrote back in late July of last year – 5 Daily Rituals to Have More Energy, Promote Lean Muscle Mass & Muscle Recovery. There I gave examples of some simple rituals you can incorporate into your daily life to achieve a certain result.  Most people go through their daily routines (or rituals as I like to call them) without really giving what they do much thought.  You can use these routines as a springboard to transform your life and make positive change.

How? Well I am glad you asked… through simple substitution. For example, something so simple as to how you wake up in the morning. Instead of hitting the snooze button a few times and dreading getting up for work (like many people do), you can start with the habit of reciting a positive mantra to yourself on how you are looking forward to your day and how much you are grateful to be alive another day on this planet and then hopping right out of bed.

sunburstdarkThis will help energize you and get you started for the day on the right foot. They say that it takes about 21 days to create a new healthy habit where you just do it automatically and it is ingrained. Doing something new like this, or anything else worthwhile may be tough at first, but if you stick it out for 21 days to about a month or so, before you know it you will be doing it automatically and it will be second nature.

In the case of this example, you will actually wake up more energized as time goes on. A quick tip if you want to try this, is to tell yourself how great you will feel in the morning right before you go to bed at night as it will help prepare and program your mind.

I encourage you to examine what you do on a consistent basis everyday that is not very productive or the healthiest of habits and how you can substitute in a healthy habit or ritual to create positive change in your life. What I will also say is not to go overboard at first and try to change everything you do and flip your life upside down right off the bat… even if it’s in the name of making positive change in your life. The reason being is that you won’t stick with it because it will be too drastic and it’s a recipe for failure.

Go gradual, pick one thing you are doing now that you can substitute in something more healthy and positive and get that down before adding in anything else.  Another example that I incorporated into my life was swapping watching tv for meditation right when I got home from work – a much more effective and healthy way to decompress I must say.

This idea can also be done on a smaller scale with the little things in your life, such as having green tea –  instead of coffee, slowing down – instead of rushing, being grateful for the little things – instead of focusing on what you don’t have, letting someone else speak instead of talking over them… are just a few things that come to mind. Granted, these aren’t really rituals, but you can see how this idea can really make you examine yourself deeper and be more mindful.

This can really build on itself over time if you stick with it and gain momentum like a snow ball effect. It is really the little things in life that together over time have the biggest impact on us.  The next thing you know you are a completely different, more positive and healthy person with a new perspective on life!  I encourage you again to experiment with this and see what kind of positive changes you can make in your life.

Smash Negative Thinking

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“I am responsible. Although I may not be able to prevent the worst from happening. I am responsible for my attitude toward the inevitable misfortunes that darken life. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can chose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have — life itself.”   — Walter Anderson


Many times in your life you may find yourself having feelings of panic or anxiety. You feel your heart racing, can’t catch your breath, you may feel shaky, light-headed, dizzy, etc. They seem to just come out of no-where or they are a physical reaction to something–an upsetting experience like a close call while driving, seeing something disturbing on the news or a work or home challenge.

I know panic attacks are real and can be extreme for some. They can rob you of your ability to think, remember and concentrate. If you are experiencing panic attacks, it’s best to get medical attention. There are tremendous resources and techniques to help.

In this post I want to talk about the feelings of dread or panic that get triggered by situations where we react negatively. We live in a dynamic world with lots of stimuli, and we react to a range of stimuli every day. Most of our reactions are subtle or incidental–like changing the TV station when we don’t like the commercial or show or moving our seat on the train when someone around us is loud.

Others are more significant and can impact us more deeply or even long term, especially in the context of how we create patterns of negative reactions. In short, reacting negatively becomes a habit or we create an emotional negative cycle.

For some of us, we have become quite good at reacting negatively, and sometimes these reactions in real time bring in those feelings of panic, fear or anxiety, and come with physical side effects (headache, upset stomach, feeling jittery). And  we let the emotions and these feelings take over. We start to ask why is this happening (again), and we don’t ask ourselves the question of what can I learn from this or we don’t take a step back to calm ourselves or reflect.

In short, we lose sight that we can manage how we react so we can move through the emotions, feelings and physical effects more quickly, and over time lessen our negative reactions that cause our minds and bodies discomfort and stress.

While we sometimes have to relinquish control over situations, we can still maintain our connection to ourselves. There are no right or wrong reactions, but only what serves us. Being self aware through the reaction and the process is important. Noting that you may be creating a pattern of negative reactions and realizing the impact your attitude has on your experiences is a first step.

You do have a choice of how you are going to respond or react. Try not to let something dictate how you react to things. You have the power and the inner strength to lessen the negative reaction and move more quickly through the emotional event.

Below are a few tips to help you when you find yourself feeling that feeling of panic or anxiety and reacting negatively:

  • Learn to recognize your negative reaction triggers. Think and reflect on what the situations are that make you susceptible to these triggers. We can’t always avoid them, but being aware can help you prepare and acknowledge them is a more positive way.
  • Practice positive self talk. You can use the old adage of “what is the worse that can happen,” and talk calmly and kindly to yourself with thoughts and words of “slow down,” “breath,” “I’m really OK,” etc.
  • Do deep breathing. Take deep, slow breaths.
  • Visualize. Close your eyes and with the deep breathing visualize a place where you are relaxed, calm and at peace. Stay there a while.
  • Do something physical. Take a walk, get out and get some fresh air, clean a closet. Physical acts not only get your mind off of things, they help you use that extra adrenaline and cortisol.
  • Call a friend. Sometimes just having someone listen where you can talk it out makes a big difference. But remember, try not to dwell–let it out and move on.
  • Avoid over analyzing. Playing it over and over with the “should haves” or “what-ifs” is just perpetuating the negativity. Let it go.
  • Journal it. Write what you are feeling. You can even write down the negative thoughts you are feeling and then simply throw them away or burn them.
  • Let the emotions flow and go through them with no judgement. Use reflection and grounding techniques.
  • Use the experience to learn about yourself and embrace that.

Remember reacting negatively is not going to change what happened, but how you manage your reaction can help change and evolve you. Turn around negativity when you notice it and infuse positivity on a regular basis.

The more positive thought you think consciously the less negative thoughts your mind will create over time. Embrace your positive warrior! I hope you found this helpful and we would love to hear from you on how you combat negative thoughts and what you do to reduce anxiety.

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