Maria Connolly Somatic Psychotherapy CoachingConnect with me on LinkedInLike us on Facebook

Author Archive

5 Ways to Transform Your Body Transform Your Life

how to transform your body transform your lifeWhich came first, the chicken or the egg? This is an age-old riddle that seems to be without solution because it’s circular in nature. You can’t have one without the other. Similarly we often ponder: which comes first, a body you’re happy with or a life you’re happy with? What do you think?

Do you tell yourself, “I’ll be happy and more outgoing when I lose 15 pounds.” Or do you think, “I can’t even think about starting a wellness program, because I’m fighting with my ex and I just can’t face one more thing.” The trouble with this thinking is that you’re compartmentalizing yourself. One part of you is at odds with another part of you.

You can’t achieve lasting transformation unless you’re considering yourself as a whole, connected being. So what must really come first is keen self-awareness.

Building awareness for how you use (or abuse) your body at any given moment is the key to transforming your body and your life. By being mindful of your physical experience, you’ll create a vessel that can experience greater strength, balance, serenity, wellness and happiness.

How to build self-awareness that helps you to transform your body transform your life…

1. Strengthen Your Core

If your core muscles, including your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis are weak, nothing else can be strong. Core exercises encourage the elongation and alignment of the central body. This allows proper energy flow as your body works as a connected and centered unit.

2. Practice Positive Posture

Proper body alignment helps relieve muscle tension, increase circulation, and boost self-confidence. Work to keep your ears, shoulders and hips aligned as you tighten your lower belly muscles. Be gentle and patient as you retrain your body.

3. Lengthen and Strengthen

When you start to slump or feel beaten down during the day, take a few moments to extend upward and center yourself. Try to make strengthening and lengthening a daily habit.

4. Tune in and Listen. One of the single most important habits you can implement is simply listening to your body. Pay attention to how things make you feel and where you feel them. When you’re stressed, do you feel it in your neck and shoulders? Your stomach? Your throat?

Direct your deliberate focus to these areas and connect with the physical sensations different parts are offering you. Recognize that they’re signals that unlock greater self-awareness. Begin strengthening and healing, as you discover healthy ways to process your emotions and relieve your stress.

5. Breathe Mindfully

I cannot overemphasize the importance of a regular practice of mindfully breathing deeply. It’s the one action that causes all others to fall into place. It automatically aligns and centers your body. Diaphragmatic breathing (filling your lungs so deeply you feel it extending into your belly) also cleanses the blood, massages internal organs, and gives your mood a fast pick-me-up.

Breathe in until you can’t hold any more. Exhale to a count of five. Relax and soften your body. Make your breathing as fluid as possible. Practice for 5 minutes and notice the improvements.

If you’re serious about creating a lasting transformation, please download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It will help you identify the areas that most need your attention right now and what you can do to transform your body – transform your life.  

Practice Self Forgiveness First – The Ho’oponopono Way

Let me introduce you to Ho’oponopono, an ancient Hawaiian practice that helps you center and find harmony, as you first learn to practice self forgiveness.“Once you forgive yourself, the self-rejection in your mind is over. Self-acceptance begins, and the self-love will grow so strong that you will finally accept yourself just the way you are. That’s the beginning of the free human. Self forgiveness is the key.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz

Does it feel like your happiness depends on the whim of every circumstance that comes your way?  You lose your job, a relationship falls apart, you have a health crisis and it feels like your whole world crashes down around you. This emotional rollercoaster can make you feel so powerless.

It can’t be helped. External factors will affect you. Yet you can regain strength and get right with yourself again by practicing an ancient Hawaiian discipline called Ho’oponopono.

You haven’t heard of Ho’oponopono? Well, let me introduce you to a marvelous, almost hypnotic practice that helps you center and harmonize yourself.

The Hawaiian word comes from ho‘o (“to make”) and pono (“right”). The repetition of the word pono means “doubly right” or being right with both yourself and others. Lasting happiness springs from this deep sense of congruency.

This process begins with finding your reason for being here on Earth. What is your big purpose – your why? This has to be something that comes from deep inside you, not based on pleasing someone else. When your reason for being resonates with your heart, mind and spirit, it becomes your path. That’s what it means to be Pono.

Then when you know your purpose, what you’re meant to do and what you’re meant to have flows from that. The things you then have and the things you do will bring you happiness because they’re in harmony with your reason for being.

How is this tied to self forgiveness? As human beings, we all make bad choices, we make mistakes. If we don’t have self forgiveness, we won’t feel comfortable in our own skins and we won’t be able to forgive others.

If you haven’t forgiven yourself, you can’t be Pono. Something will always be off, out of kilter. Everything you do, everything you see in yourself and others will be colored from this skewed point of view.

For example, if you’re hard on yourself and judgmental this is how you’ll look at others too. The thing that you can’t stand most in others is often a trait you hold deep within yourself. When you can forgive yourself of that trait, it will no longer be a sore spot in your view of others.

Learn to accept yourself, love yourself, and let the negativity go. After all, how can you feel good about yourself and your own life if you’re constantly remembering, reliving and keeping score of wrongs done to you or that you’ve done?

“Although you should not erase your responsibility for the past, when you make the past your jailer, you destroy your future. It is such a great moment of liberation when you learn to forgive yourself, let the burden go, and walk out into a new path of promise and possibility.” ~ John O’Donohue

How do you practice self forgiveness? Tell yourself the following phrases until you believe them…“I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” When you feel anger, disappointment or other hurt feelings welling up, turn inward, connect with yourself and lovingly forgive yourself of the things that trigger these responses.

Does this work? Definitely. Watch this video to see how Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len effectively practices Ho’oponopono within the prison system. If it can work there, it will work for you.

When you discover the inner peace that comes with being Pono, it helps you let go of negative feelings towards others. The very essence of ho‘oponopono is that you can forgive others because you see your connection with them.

When you become right with yourself, you become right with others. This is key to creating lasting life changes. Every day, we’re given a positive seed to plant with the responsibility to help it grow and flourish. Certainly we wouldn’t want to poison and kill it with negativity.

If you’re ready to break the negativity cycle and would like someone to support and provide accountability for you, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s get started!

Feeling Overwhelmed All the Time? 8 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

If you’re feeling overwhelmed all the time, try these eight simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety, especially during the holiday season.“A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” ~ Lysa Terkeurst

Let’s look in and see what many women deal with, especially during the holidays …

As she starts her day, she wonders, “When am I going to find the time to get everything done? I have three work deadlines and I’m behind schedule. And now the holidays are here… so everything has to be perfect! The house must be cleaned from top to bottom. I have to decorate at least as well as my sister does or Mom is going to say something. With everyone’s food allergies how am I going to cook for all of them? On top of that I have to smile through Uncle Ted’s jokes again…Eeeeek! I feel like I’m going to explode!”

Life in general causes many women to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Then the holiday season brings with it its own set of stressful circumstances. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed all the time, it can almost drive you over the edge. It’s no wonder so many women are suffering from adrenal fatigue. They’re burning the candle at both ends.

 

So how can you relieve your feeling of overwhelm, so life is more enjoyable?

 

1. Create routines so you make fewer decisions.

If you’re not clear on what you want, making decisions creates stress. So the more things you can do routinely, the less stress you’ll have.  This is one of the easiest ways to give yourself a break. Try simple changes like getting up at the same time or following a meal plan.

2. Move your body every day.

I’ve found that The Feldenkrais Method® really helps me to sense into myself.

Endorphins combat stress, and exercise stimulates endorphins. It doesn’t take a lot, just doing something extra every day.

3. Eat mindfully.

Too many people eat on the run. Make sure you carve out time to sit and mindfully eat a balanced breakfast and lunch. Don’t check your emails. Don’t try to work and eat. Put away your electronic devices and reading material. Breathe deeply and feel yourself slow down before you take your first bite.

4. Don’t immediately commit to something.

Because we hate to let anyone down we often reflexively say “yes” to every request.  Instead, practice saying, “let me get back to you on that.” It buys you time to consider whether you want to do it or not.

5. Try simple meditation.

Close your eyes. Breathe in for a count of four. Breathe out for a count of four. Repeat another three times. And you’re done.

6. Visualize each task as completed.

Sit quietly for 30 seconds and think about what it means to finish what you start. Commit and trust yourself to follow through. How will that feel? What will it mean to your life? Think about it and let it move you forward.

“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

7. What you should do doesn’t always matter.

We have a limited number of hours in the day, and while you may have many interests, you can only realistically do a few major projects a year. You don’t have to do everything. So ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this or can I let it slide?” Focus on the things you really want to do.

8. Don’t wait for motivation. So many times you won’t feel like doing a project, but if you just get started with one step of it, you’ll find it leads to the next. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a quick way to randomly pursue something, then give up, only to yo-yo back a couple weeks later. If you have life systems then you won’t have to depend on willpower or inspiration.

Instead of depending on fleeting motivation, build a system. This means you work through the steps of finding a new job, add it to your calendar every week, and make sure you have the time and mental energy (which are much easier once you know what to do).

 

Are you ready to live a more intentional life? Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype), and let’s get started.

Practice Gratitude and You’ll Feel Rich Beyond Measure

When you practice gratitude you improve your physical and mental health because you see, not what you think you lack, but the abundance you already have.  What are you most grateful for? I’m so grateful for a supportive husband, close family, loving friends, a great business working with wonderful women, a strong body, having the skills to cope with daily ups and downs and so much more. My list is really too long to itemize. Perhaps it’s the same with you.

Did you realize that some people struggle with listing even five things they’re grateful for? Ungrateful people tend to focus on deprivation, regrets, lack, scarcity and loss. Grateful people, on the other hand, tend to talk about things like gifts, givers, blessings, fortune and abundance.

Why does being grateful come easily for some but not for others?

According to experiments conducted by Anthony Ahrens, associate professor of psychology at American University, people who score high for autonomy experience less overall gratitude, and they value it less. It’s possibly because they feel that gratitude undermines their independence.

People who tend to be perfectionists may also have a neutral or negative reaction to gratitude because it attributes their success to benefits received from others. They don’t want to feel beholden in any way. And they don’t want to share the spotlight with anyone else.

Living in a culture that equates having “things” with happiness also undermines a person’s ability to feel grateful. Much of society feels entitled, that the universe owes them. They see relationships through the lens that they are bought, used and disposed once their purpose is fulfilled, just like the “things” they purchase.

Depression may also be a factor. Studies suggest that chronic complaining may be linked to depression and anxiety. If you ever experience severe depression, please seek help immediately. If you’re experiencing a funk, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how practicing gratitude can life your spirits.

Have you been influenced by any of these limiting points of view? Don’t feel discouraged. There are things you can do to improve.

The good thing about gratitude is you can always have more. So don’t reserve a spirit of thankfulness to just once a year. As Zig Ziglar put it, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

When you do feel amazingly awesome moment of gratitude, savor those feelings. Pause. Notice. Let it sink in. Soak it up.

But gratitude is more than a feeling. Gratitude is a virtue that leads to action. It embodies the law of reciprocity. You do a nice thing for me, I want to do a nice thing for you. And it makes me feel so good I want to pass it on to someone else.

To say you’re grateful doesn’t mean everything in your life is great all the time. It just means you can see the goodness and you don’t take it for granted. Gratitude shifts your focus from what you think your life lacks to the abundance you already have. It increases your resiliency, optimism and energy. Gratitude puts situations into perspective so you don’t complain or stay stuck. It lessens panic and opens up your thinking of new solutions as you see what’s working for you.

Just as there are many ways to exercise, you can express gratitude in various ways like practicing mindfulness, meditating, praying, reminiscing and sharing stories, being more generous, or spending time in nature. Some families have made a practice of taking turns to express one thing they’re grateful for before eating dinner. What an easy and sustainable practice!

Once you decide to practice gratitude, give it some time before you expect changes. But be assured they will come, because you can rewire your brain. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). We can talk about more ways to practice gratitude and live an embodied life.

How to Increase Your Willpower with 7 Skills that Unleash Massive Productivity

If you think you need to know how to increase your willpower, what you really need is this new process for thinking and controlling your emotional state. Self-control, self-discipline, self-regulation, self-restraint, willpower, resolution, mental toughness, grit…whatever you call it, it’s a cognitive process that you need if you’re going to reach your desired goal. And as the word “self” implies, this is something you must develop within yourself. No one can do it for you.

Yet, if you were to list your strengths, would self-control and willpower be on your list? If so, are they near the top? If you’re like most people, they’re probably nearer the bottom.

So much of today’s marketing says you’ll succeed (lose weight, quit smoking, excel in business) if you just have more willpower. You’re told to control yourself and make yourself do it.

But we’re all emotional beings. We have ups and downs. The problem with being told you need more willpower is that it doesn’t give you the skills or tools to know how to develop it. As the definition states, it’s a process in your brain. And a process can be built if you don’t have one, or it can be improved if you do have one.

How to build and increase your willpower and self-discipline? Learn to listen to yourself in the following areas:

1.  Care for your physical needs. You’ve heard it before, but it can’t be overemphasized…eat nutritious food, get plenty of restorative sleep and exercise. Your body is an engine and it needs the right fuel and maintenance to run at peak efficiency. If you don’t care for yourself you’ll be moody, make rash decisions and lose your cool.

2. Ride the tide. Desires and distractions ebb and flow like the tide. When you have a strong impulse to do something you shouldn’t, count to 10. Breathe deeply and center yourself to stay in touch with what’s really important to you. Wait 10 minutes before taking action. By then that wave of desire will become a ripple that you can easily step over.

3. Forgive yourself. It’s a vicious cycle if you default to self-disgust when you don’t measure up to your ideals. It leads to the “Why try?” attitude, which leads to binging on the undesirable behavior you’re trying to conquer. When you slip up, forgive yourself and move on. Acknowledge how the mistake makes you feel, but don’t wallow in it. Shift your attention to what you can do to improve yourself and the situation right now.

4. Live in the present. There’s a trap in living in the past. You know that’s what you’re doing if you say, “I failed before; I’ll fail again”. Or you label yourself “I’m a ___”. That’s not who you are. That’s a past behavior that you don’t have to model today. The other trap is living in the future. That’s indicated by saying, “I’ll get to it someday, but not today.” Learn to be mindfully present in the moment.

5. Focus on results. Your emotional state is determined by what you focus your attention on. Focus on problems and you prolong negative emotions. Focus on positive actions you CAN take and you’ll feel empowered, even if it means taking just one little step forward. That one step will lead to another, which leads to another…until you get the results you desire.

6. Say “YES” when you mean YES and “NO” when you mean NO. I know. You hem and haw because you don’t want to let someone down or put someone out. But you’re not honoring them with indecisive messages. Give them a clear answer and they’ll accept it.

Wishy washy phrases like, “I’m not sure” or “I think so” give your power away. In fact, it harms your physical and mental health. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco found that if you have trouble saying “no” you’re more likely to experience stress, burnout and depression.

When you honor how you feel and honor the things you’re committed to doing, it increases your self-control and willpower. You won’t be spreading yourself too thin by over-committing yourself.

7. Avoid perfectionism and be willing to pay the price. Regrets and worrying about “what ifs” get you nowhere. Plan your strategy and funnel your energies into your chosen course of action. It won’t be perfect, because nothing can be perfect. Just do it as competently as you can. You’ll be surprised by how much you accomplish and how empowering it is!

So now you have a process when you need the willpower to attain a goal or objective. But how do you know if it’s the right goal? Would you like to ensure you’re spending your time and energy on the right thing for you, right now? Then please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

Recent Posts

About Maria

Our Address