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Five Ways to Mindfully Shift up Your Level of Happiness

Increase your level of happiness“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” Omar Khayyam

Happiness is something we all want but how much control do we have over it? Even if you have tendencies toward negativity, you can create a happier life by (1) opening your eyes and seeing the good around you, (2) expanding your heart to appreciate each beautiful moment and (3) focusing on responding to each life circumstance that arises instead of simply reacting. It’s your choice to be happy with where you’re at in life at this moment in time.

To achieve a happy, positive attitude, it’s beneficial to incorporate mindfulness practices in our daily routine that boost a positive outlook. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. who’s responsible for bringing the practice of mindfulness to mainstream medicine, defines it as: paying attention in a particular way – on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.

When you allow yourself to be relaxed and aware of the present moment, you can extend openness and curiosity toward your feelings rather than making judgments about them. And more importantly when you extend that to others in gestures of giving, compassion and gratitude, it causes your happiness to grow.

Try these simple mindfulness exercises…

1. Take Pleasure in the Moment. Calm your mind and heart to become aware of the good that’s already present in your life.

How can you do this? Savor the experience in the moment. Hold good thoughts as long as possible. Notice the somatic resonance in your body. Anchor those sensations to be able to access them at will. We’re surrounded by beauty every day. Take the time to really look for and appreciate the good in each moment of life.

2. Express Gratitude. Feeling gratitude and expressing gratitude are two separate things. Research shows that having an attitude of gratitude is good for us. However, expressing gratitude increases happiness levels by 25 percent. Researchers are seeing how cortisol levels, stress levels, heart rate and brain activity are all affected by expressing gratitude. Science is showing that we can actually rewire our brains and develop new neuropathways.

How can you do this? Daily look for times to say “Thank you.” Gratitude journaling makes you aware of past kindnesses. Make a point of sending a card or making a phone call to let people know how they’ve touched you.

3. Connect Your Purpose. Having a sense of meaning in your life may become a defense from life difficulties. This, in turn may preserve your physical and mental health, promote self-acceptance, and ultimately increase happiness.

How can you do this? Focus on your values, how you make the world a better place for your family, friends and neighbors. Think about how you make their lives fuller and richer.

4. Connect with Others by Giving. Humans are not meant to be isolated. We’re meant to interact with others. Giving of your time and resources without expecting anything in return is the best way to connect with others.

How can you do this? Seek out someone in need. And remember that one of the greatest gifts you can give is to listen to them without judgment. The best gifts are not necessarily based on things or money. Love, kindness, concern, thoughtfulness are all gifts. And if someone wants to give back to you, graciously accept their gift.

5. Walk in Their Shoes. When you’re able to empathize with others, you become more compassionate and understanding. Barriers dissolve and relationships flourish as you treat others as you would like them to treat yourself.

How can you do this? Always ask yourself, “If that happened to me, how would I feel and how would I want people to treat me?”

We cannot wait for happiness to find us. We can mindfully cultivate happiness every day. I’d be honored to partner with you in private coaching and group coaching sessions as you expand your ability to consistently make choices that contribute to your personal happiness and that of others. If that sounds good to you, please  contact me and let’s talk.

 

Do You Feel Centered or Off-Balance? Discover Centering Practices That Promote Excellence

“Be strong then, and enter into your own body;     
there you have a solid place for your feet.   
Think about it carefully!    
Don’t go off somewhere else!      
…just throw away all thoughts of     
imaginary things,     
and stand firm in that which you are.” ~ Kabir

archery is one of the centering practices that promote excellenceCan anyone achieve excellence? How do high achievers attain their success? Is it because they’re born with some special power? Not at all! They achieve excellence because they are able to channel their energy effectively under extreme conditions.

Many would say that they consistently tap into their inner strength, their self-control, or self-discipline. I like to think of them being very intentional and deliberate. Rather than getting caught up in checking emails or social media, watching TV, surfing the web, they choose to use their time for developing what really matters to them, enhancing their skills, improving their health and inner being.

Being centered undoubtedly helps you become more intentional. However, don’t be surprised at the beginning if learning to center yourself is challenging. It will involve some effort as you develop new muscle memory. You might be used to being slightly off-balanced!

Also, once you are centered you can’t expect to stay centered for very long! You deplete your energy resources throughout the day, especially during stressful situations. This is why you need a committed practice that keeps you refueled and replenished. Over time you’ll even expand your reserves so you can live life more richly. Consistency is essential to your centering practice.

To illustrate: What happens if you center yourself at the beginning of the day and then stress arises? Will your early morning centering carry you through? It will help, but consistently centering yourself throughout the day is essential to maintaining your balance. Even when you are not feeling particularly emotional or in need of centering, you’ll find that it deepens your practice.

What can you do to begin a steady centering practice?

Anything that helps you feel still and aware can become your centering practice. It’s a way to connect with that space within you that is always calm and at peace. This space is often referred to as your “calm center”. Decisions made from this calm center will be more in alignment with your values; actions taken from this place will be more deliberate and purposeful.

I personally have several practices that help me with centering. A few times a week I practice Aikido at a local dojo. The name Aikido is composed of three Japanese words: ai, meaning harmony; ki, spirit or energy; and do, the path or the way. Aikido is the way of the spirit of harmony. Through this weekly practice, I continue to explore ways to stay centered in my body, to use my center to interact with others and to harmonize with the world in ways that are both self-promoting and life enhancing.

I also practice archery. I’ve done so for the past four years and just recently I’ve started training as a horseback archer. To me horseback archery is not just a cool and fun sport. It’s the harmony of four elements – horse, rider, bow, and arrow – into a powerful center. It’s about moving forward with purpose. It’s a centering practice and a metaphor for life.

My daily Feldenkrais practice also aids centering time to my life. When I lay on my mat or table and I sense into my self through slow, mindful movements. I cultivate that center that’s so useful when I need to be calm, resourceful and perform.

What these three practices have in common is that, in order to perform them, you have to find, develop and express your center. It’s not necessary to spend hours cultivating a centering practice. You can start small, exploring what you enjoy and can practice consistently with ease and pleasure.

Would you like to develop your own customized centering practice to help you cope with stress and live more fully? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and learn how somatic coaching helps you engage your whole mind and body in achieving excellence. 

Live In Your Body: How to Center Yourself to Achieve Greatness

Learn these centering techniques to gain peace, clarity and focus, because a centering practice helps you control stressful situations and achieve greatness.

“If you are centered, you can move freely.” ~  Morihei Ueshiba

Have you ever experienced a tense or stressful moment when your heart starts pounding, you’re short of breath, you start sweating and feel light-headed? I think we all have. Maybe you took a deep breath to calm yourself down. You probably didn’t realize that this is a natural way of “centering” your body!

There’s more to centering then an occasional deep breath but the good news is it’s one of the simplest and most helpful forms of calming practice. The “center” refers to a relaxed yet focused state of mind. Being centered means remaining in your calm center amidst the busyness of everyday life. Being centered means not allowing your inner being to be overshadowed by stressful circumstances or negative thoughts and emotions.

When you are centered,

you are in a state of clarity, focus, peace, flow and balance.

When you are not centered,

you are unclear, unfocussed, stressed, and off balance.

Centering is especially helpful in the midst of strong emotional states like excitement or anxiety. It’s often used by athletes, public speakers, actors, or anyone who wants to feel stable and prepared before a potentially stressful event. When life becomes chaotic and demanding, the ability to maintain a relaxed body and focused state of mind can be VERY valuable.

The reasons for cultivating this ability are immense, so start where you are and increase your skills over time. You don’t need to begin with daunting, time and energy consuming activities at first. As I often say, “Start Small!”

You don’t want to wait until you’re confronted with a stressful situation to get started. When practiced often, good centering techniques will require only minimal attention, allowing you to keep some of your attention on the activity at hand.

I personally find that the quickest way to center my mind is through my body. When my spine is alert and soft, my heart is relaxed and open and I stand midway between my back and my front leg, I feel more centered.

I invite you to use centering as your practice for the next three weeks, every day. You’ll need daily intent, discipline, and a curiosity for deepening and learning from the practice to follow through. I suggest a minimum of 5 minutes each day, working up to 15 minutes a day toward the end of the three weeks.

Here are the centering basics to get you started:

  • Focus your attention on your sensations and aliveness.Feel what is present in this moment.
  • Purposefully bring your attention to your center (2 inches below your navel). What changes in your body as you do this?
  • Center in Length. Drop into gravity and your lower body and lengthen up the spine.  This promotes dignity, self-worth and your highest vision.
  • Center in Width.  Balance left to right. Widen from your centerline. Fill out and beyond your edges. This promotes connection, community and interdependence.
  • Center in Depth. Fill in, feel the space behind you, inside of you, in front of you.  Don’t pull back, nor push forward. This connects you to your past, present, future.
  • Center in Purpose. Speak your commitment to yourself. Or center into your calling or longing. Say out loud, “I am a commitment to…”

 

Are you interested in learning how to center yourself to improve your quality of life? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and learn how somatic coaching can help you engage your whole mind and body in achieving greatness. 

Seven Ways to Know You’ve Found the Best Life Coach to Mentor You

seven ways to find the best life coach to mentor you

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”  ~ Albert Einstein

When it comes to choosing a mentor or life coach it’s definitely not a one size fits all scenario. What’s right for your spouse or best friend may not be a good fit for you. What do you want and need from a mentorship experience?

If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, the time you spend with your mentor will not be as meaningful. So mindfully think about your life. What is the one area of your life you’d like to improve right now? What do you want to change?

There are fundamentally five areas of life to consider when you’re trying to pinpoint who will be the best life coach or mentor for you:

  • Relationships and Intimacy
  • Life Purpose, Personal Growth and Spirituality
  • Goal Setting, Creativity, and Motivation
  • Career Planning & Development and Life Balance
  • Lifestyle Improvement, Self-Care, and Stress Management

 

After you identify which area of life you want to grow in, you’ll be able to narrow down what you specifically want to achieve. Then you’ll be ready to seek out a mentor (or several mentors if you want to work on a few areas at once, such as a fitness expert and a business coach) who can help you formulate a sensible plan to help you reach your goals.

But how do you know if a mentor is right for you? Look for a life coach with the following seven consistent characteristics. Consider whether he or she…

1. is available to talk with you on a regular basis so that you can learn, grow and become a better person. Consistency is very important!

2. has qualities and values you admire and want to reflect in your own life.

3. has successfully traveled the road you want to go down and has the patience and skills to show you how to do it too.

4. has a depth of knowledge and wisdom in areas you lack and is able to give valuable advice.

5. will support you as he encourages you to reach for higher goals, to take the next step and to push yourself in ways you never thought possible.

6. will push you harder and keep you going by asking the hard questions that challenge you to come up with hidden answers. 

7. will help you dig deep and pull out more of the person you’re meant to be as you reach your full potential.

Which of the above characteristics best fits the place where you are at right now? If you’re in a very fragile place, you may need more nurturing rather than someone pushing you hard. Or if you’re ready to grow but are holding back because of fear, you may need that extra push right now.

When you find the mentor who is right for you, approach your mentoring relationship with an attitude of openness to reveal yourself and willingness to receive feedback. And don’t forget this is a give and take relationship. You have value to share with your mentor as well. As your relationship grows, you very well may have found a best friend for life.

I’m thrilled to work with women in private coaching and group coaching sessions who are ready to expand their ability to consistently make choices that contribute to personal happiness and that of others. If you are ready to partner with me to help you reach your goals, please contact me and let’s talk.

5 Times in Your Life When You Could Really Use a Life Coach

5 times in your life when you need a business coach or life coach“Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.” ~ Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz from The Power of Full Engagement

Are you full of ideas of what you’d like to do, but you’re too tired and drained to accomplish them? Perhaps you keep coming up against the same roadblocks and you can’t find a way around them. To be successful in life and business you need the drive and energy to get things done.

There are two dangers to your energy that you must guard against…using all of your energy up or under using the energy you have. Just as muscles can atrophy, your energy resources will whither if you don’t use them. It’s essential to find a balance between energy expenditure and energy renewal.

In order to achieve our highest potential we need to focus our energy in these areas:

Mental: Productivity, attention, and comprehension depend on strong mental clarity and focus.

Spiritual: Possessing the ability to live in harmony with who you are, what’s most important to you and what gives meaning to your life.

Physical: Creating a strong and healthy body is the foundation for all else.

Emotional: Recognizing that all virtues are dependent and balanced by other virtues, for example, honesty without compassion can be cruel. It’s vital to learn to choose your emotional responses.

Full engagement requires that we draw on these separate but related sources of energy. Focusing deliberately on these areas is a simple and sure way to affect your life in a positive way. Because of the noise that fills everyday life, most people need help determining which are the best strategies for success.

There are five times in your life that a Somatic Life Coach will help you to dramatically increase your success…

Consider working with a coach when you’re:

1. Feeling stuck – You know you should be doing “something” – like marketing your business, engaging in public speaking, negotiating more effectively, balancing life and work, or creating a healthier lifestyle – but you’re not sure how.

2. Onto something big You understand who you are and what you want and are ready to go after it with enthusiasm and dedication.

3. Afraid of the future You don’t like the status quo and want something better.

4. Unsure of what you want You’re ready to go from “I don’t know what to do” to “I know what I want, and I know how to get it! 

5. Overwhelmed and don’t know where to start You’re ready to reclaim more passion, power and purpose and excitement in your work life but you need direction.

Deep down most people know what their own solutions are. You simply need someone to provide you with a safe, supportive, discovery-based environment where you feel free to make change happen.

You can create a greater capacity of energy by pushing beyond your normal limits, training yourself through positive rituals and systematic routines. Are you ready to make a change? Click here to see which of my specific life coaching services is the right fit for your needs. I’m eager to help you find your hidden potential and to give you the strategies and accountability that will transform your life.

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