“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.
Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?
- Growth & learning
- Daily relaxation
This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:
1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.
But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.
I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all.
2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.
Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.
3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)
When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.
“You seem like you’re miles away.” It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? Your body is there but you’re mind is somewhere else. Conversely, it’s also easy to be engaged mentally, but not physically. You know (the brain function) how to do something (lose weight, quit smoking, run a business, be a parent) but you don’t do (the body function) what is required to follow through.
If this only happens occasionally, that’s not a problem. However, if that’s your continual state of being, it’s a sign that you’re not fully connected with yourself or others. Not being fully present causes great strain on your relationships. And even more damaging, it makes it impossible for you to listen to what your own body is saying. It prevents your parts from being fully integrated.
There is great value in paying attention to your whole body as a source of wisdom and learning. You can learn to minimize distraction and become more fully present by incorporating somatic practices in you day-to-day activities.
What are somatic practices?
Somatic practices create an elevated level of self-awareness. Rather than focusing solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching incorporates your entire body. The word somatic comes from the Greek root word “soma”, which means “the living body in its wholeness.” The body, mind, emotions and spirit influence each other constantly, even when you’re not aware of it.
Our society teaches us to concentrate on doing brain work. In school we memorize facts and pass tests, but we’re not taught how to live as a wholly integrated person. In business we sit at computers and strain our brains to the limits. But by the end of the day we’re exhausted mentally and just want to “veg out”. However, the body hasn’t been stretched or worked, so it’s too keyed up to settle down, therefore sleepless nights ensue.
By integrating simple somatic practices, you will get your work done, plus feel more centered and less tired. By bringing your whole integrated self to the table, your head is not doing all the work, and you’re not fighting with the parts of you that are distracted.
What are some basic somatic practices you can do to create deeper mind/body awareness?
- Mindfulness. Daily make a practice of noticing your body sensations and emotional responses.
- Monitor and become more aware of your breathing patterns. Here are some resources for you:
Tap into the Powerful Anatomy of Breathing to Promote Better Health
Five Breathing Exercises for Balancing Your Life, Your Mood and Your Relationships
Breathe Your Way to Wellness With the Yoga Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
- Suspend judgment as you scan your body. Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation empower you to let go of self-judgments.
- Centering. Find that space within you that keeps you calm and at peace. Here are some resources to discover the best centering practice for you:
How to Center Yourself to Achieve Greatness.
10 Centering Techniques to Live an Embodied Life.
Discover Centering Practices That Promote Excellence.
- Grounding. After you’ve centered yourself, connect yourself to the ground. Move your attention from your head down the length of your body – your heart center, belly, legs, and feet. Feel yourself connected to the ground. Think about the time someone pushed you before you were aware that they would. You almost toppled over, didn’t you? Then think about how being aware ahead of time makes you able to hold your ground. You instinctively use your awareness to drop your energy and settle more into your body to ground yourself.
- The Feldenkrais Method®. Create a daily practice of body awareness through movement. I continually use this method to resource my back and make my body more resilient to stress.
- Visualization. Mindfully use the power of your thoughts to your advantage and engage your body in the new awareness.
- Reframing exercises. Rewire your brain to handle any negative event in a positive way and anchor the new action into your body.
- Anchoring techniques. Preset your response to specific situations by choosing positive somatic states.
These are just some of the somatic practices I use to help my clients feel more resourceful and excel in life. It’s empowering to know that you can mindfully choose to respond in a way that leaves you feeling whole and at peace. It just takes practice. With practice, your body will become more flexible and resourceful and you will become the person you want to be.
I’d love to explain further how you can use these and other powerful somatic practices. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” ~ Viktor Frankl
What is life about for you? To go for the gusto and experience a new thrill every day? To live a quiet life? To live a good life? To live a happy life? To live a life of meaning and purpose? Each phrase brings a different picture to your mind, doesn’t it? What does it mean to YOU to really live?
Life is about how you choose to spend the time you have – only you can define and design the life you want. What makes you happy or gives your life meaning may be vastly different from anyone else. The key is to determine YOUR Perfect Life and then live it without apology.
While we have differences, there are some basic human behaviors and emotional responses that remain constant. Take for example our shared reactions to living for happiness, living for purpose and living for meaning.
What do you think: Can you have happiness without purpose? Can you have meaning without happiness? So many times they’re linked together, aren’t they? Yet, you may have noticed these subtle differences…
It seems like everyone wants to be happy, but happiness can be elusive. That’s because oftentimes happiness depends on external circumstances in the present moment. Your health, wealth or good relationships may make you happy, but just let a circumstance change – you catch a cold, you lose your wallet – and happiness turns to misery. Happiness also depends on experiencing pleasure and getting what you want, when you want it. It can, at times, be a very superficial or fleeting quest.
Finding meaning in life is a deeper pursuit. It takes introspection and isn’t dependent on circumstances like health or wealth or satisfying all your needs and want. It takes into consideration the past, present and future. When you find your meaning or purpose it energizes you for a lifetime.
Neurologist and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, survived the holocaust so he has a unique perspective of thriving despite adverse circumstance. Some of his wisdom on the topic of what life is about is shown in the following quotes:
- “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
- “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
- “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
- “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
- “Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
Dr. Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University studied the differences and similarities of living a happy life and living a meaningful life. While other researchers don’t always agree with his findings, they do provide much food for thought. He suggests that…
- Pure happiness is about getting what we want in life; meaningfulness seems to be more connected with giving and sacrifice.
- Happiness comes from what others give to us; meaningfulness comes from giving to other people.
- Happiness seems to be connected more to the benefits one receives from friendships; meaningfulness is associated with providing for close family i.e. children.
- Happiness doesn’t tolerate worry, stress or anxiety; meaningfulness rises above these challenges.
- Happiness isn’t dependant on self-expression of your personal and cultural identity; meaningfulness is.
Time after time, century-old wisdom is proven true: Life is not about pursuing pleasure, since it will not lead to either happiness or meaning. Again, it all comes down to what you know to be true for yourself, because that will determine where you invest your energy.
We can’t always be happy or “up”. But we can create an abiding feeling of well-being, inner joy, peace of mind, and satisfaction that sustains us through the ups and downs. Down times are simply reminders that you need some self-care to restore the energy you’ve spent. It gives you time for reflection and introspection to see if you need to make some kind of course correction.
If you’d like to focus more closely on finding YOUR answer to “what is life about for ME?” please attend our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend. Nando and I will support you in your quest for your perfect life.
“How do we nurture the soul? By revering our own life. By learning to love it all, not only the joys and the victories, but also the pain and the struggles.” —Nathaniel Branden
In order for us to fully enjoy life, all aspects of life must be in balance. Mind, body and spirit have to be in harmony with each other. Focusing on only the material and neglecting the spiritual leaves people feeling empty and dissatisfied. People are trying to “find themselves”, because they sense that something important is missing. That something is, more often than not, spirituality.
What is spirituality? How do you know if you’re a spiritual person? The quest for spirituality is intrinsic to the human experience. We all have a need for it, although some are more aware about it than others, and we choose to fill that need in different ways. Some people define spirituality as attending religious services, enjoying time in nature, praying, or meditating to mention only a few. And the interesting thing is that your definition may drastically change over time.
Something that all spiritual experiences have in common is that it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than self. Being connected to it creates a deep feeling of being more alive and more purposeful.
Many of the practices that help you cultivate spirituality are the same ones that help you improve emotional well-being. While emotions and spirituality are distinct, they form a self-perpetuating circle. Spirituality leads to emotions such as peace of mind, awe, gratitude, and acceptance, which broaden your ability to recognize and connect with that which is larger than yourself.
How to integrate the material with the spiritual
It’s essential that you don’t entrust your spiritual journey to anyone else. They simply can’t do it for you. Here are some ways to greater spirituality…
Find your purpose. When you discover meaning in life, you find a path that’s aligned with something bigger than your health, possessions or beliefs.
Create connection. To feel complete, we crave to receive and give unconditional love and acceptance from family, friends, and the Universe. I love how Guy Finley explains it, “Nothing glows brighter than the heart awakened to the light of love that lives within it.”
Continue growing as a person. When we stop growing, we die inside and give up. You feel more alive when you work to improve, push boundaries and reach your full potential.
Answer the big questions in life. It’s normal to want to understand how life works and how you fit in, so you probably have asked, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”
Seek inner peace. Spirituality helps you gain balance independent of external experiences in a way that creates greater appreciation for life.
Transcend above the every day. You’re feeding your spirit when you want something better than the present human condition; you seek meaning in suffering and an enlightened way of life that rises above the pettiness around you.
Explore life’s mysteries. These moments of discovery fill you with awe, a sense of wonder and feel sacred. You clearly see your small place in the Universe.
Be of service. Your spirit is revived when you make a difference in the lives of others.
Which one of these quests drives your search for spirituality? Not all of them will resonate with you, so this will dictate the path and practices you choose to follow.
I’ve been reading a lot of Brene’ Brown’s books lately. She defines spirituality as:
“Recognizing and celebrating that we are inextricably connected with one another by a power greater than all of us and that that connection to that power and one another is grounded in love and belonging.”
When I heard this definition I thought, “This is the first definition of spirituality that sincerely makes sense!” I think of being spiritual as being connected to our true SPIRIT, which includes the reasons why we’re here; why we do what we do; and why we have the experiences we have. It all becomes part of a human perfection. When we embark on our journey of discovery, the process itself becomes a spiritual journey. We have the opportunity to rise above pain, hurts and our own fallacies as humans and connect on a level beyond what our brains can understand, where our own stories finally make more sense.
If you’d like to take your spiritual journey to greater depths, I’d love to invite you to our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend this life-changing, 3-day event. Nando and I will help you explore YOUR spiritual path in a safe and supportive environment.
“Many times in life I’ve regretted the things I’ve said without thinking. But I’ve never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I left unspoken. ~ Lisa Kleypas
Do you feel free to be yourself all of the time? Or do you wake up each morning and “put your armor on” so people won’t see the real you – your vulnerabilities, quirks or shame?
It’s not easy to always speak your truth. We worry about appearing weak. We worry about creating conflict. We worry about giving away our power. We worry about hurting someone’s feelings.
Reflect over the past week…how many times have you not been entirely truthful? Perhaps you’ve spoken little white lies or you’ve held back from revealing the whole truth to make yourself look better?
For example, maybe you overspent your clothing budget by buying a new pair of shoes, and your partner notices. He asks, “Are those shoes new?” Offhandedly you respond, “Oh, they’ve been in the closet for awhile.” You feel it’s not an outright lie because they have been there overnight. That’s awhile, right? Of course, it gives the impression that they’re not a new purchase. Not exactly truthful is it?
This is just one example of pushing down your truth, which is harmful to yourself and your relationships. Other ways you could be hiding your truth is by holding back your true opinions to avoid controversy. Or you hide “shameful” parts of your life because if anyone ever found out then you’d feel less than perfect, less than extraordinary, less than good.
Mentally visualize what holding back, pushing down, and closing up feels like. Does it make you feel free? To the contrary, it has the opposite effect, doesn’t it? You feel trapped in a dark place.
In light of the recent #MeToo Movement, many women are opening up about their experiences and sharing their truth. And do you know what? The response from other women and supportive men has been amazing. It’s incredibly empowering to be believed, to be validated, to be heard.
Of course, not everyone wants to hear your truth. But the people who really care about you will welcome it. Often they’ll say, “Is that how you really feel? I had no idea. Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me.”
When you get to the point of not obsessing over what others think and you speak your truth in a calm and respectful manner, a weight will immediately lift from your shoulders. The beauty of it is that you’ll forge deep connections with those you tell. They’ll feel like they can relate to you on a more personal, intimate level.
When you speak truthfully, you open up the door for deep connection, conversation, and compassion. It impels those around you to feel safe to live their own truths, too.
I encourage you to become mindful of the areas where you could be more truthful with yourself and others. Notice who makes you feel like you have to hide and what situations make you mask your real beliefs, so you “fit it”. Also pay close attention to your untrue self-talk that keeps you stuck and not living freely. Then make a point of making choices that promote a feeling of freedom. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you explore what it means to live and speak your truth.
It takes courage and sometimes a lot of internal work to get to the place where you can live and speak your truth. If you crave that kind of freedom, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this exciting journey.