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Category: Mindfulness

Mindfulness provides access to powerful inner resources so we can change the way we see and ultimately experience difficult situations. We’re empowered to participate in these situations – and interact with the world at large – as we work with what arises instead of trying to escape.

Improve Your Personal and Business Communication through Touch

Improve personal and business communication through touchAren’t you drawn to warm, affectionate people? We feel immediately comfortable with them. What is it that makes them so approachable? It might be the warmth of their smile or their eye contact with you.

However, if you pay attention, you might be surprised to find how often warm people touch others. They shake hands with firm, full palm contact…not a limp-fish handshake. They may even pat you on the shoulder as they shake your hand. Or they let their hand rest just for a moment on your forearm. Or they greet you with a side hug, knowing that a full hug seems too intimate and may make you uncomfortable. All during the conversation, they continue to communicate through touch.

Touch is our primary language of compassion. Maybe you can remember a time when you were hurting, and a trusted confidante or parent enveloped you in their arms. Your heartbeat slowed, your sobs subsided, and you were able to breathe again. Touch changed your life at that moment. You knew you were not alone. Someone was there for you.

Communication through touch is fundamental to human bonding and health. At Berkeley University of California they studied whether people can communicate compassion through touch. They built a barrier in the lab that separated two strangers. One person stuck his or her arm through the barrier and waited. The other person was given a list of emotions. He or she had to try to convey each emotion through a one-second touch to the stranger’s forearm. The person whose arm was being touched had to guess the emotion.

Remarkably, the guesses were correct nearly 60 percent of the time. They got the emotions – gratitude, anger, love, and fear – right more than 50 percent of the time. Gender seems to have a bearing on the results. Interestingly, when a woman tried to communicate anger to a man, he had no idea what she was doing. And when a man tried to communicate compassion to a woman, she didn’t understand it.

In another study these researchers found, “People can not only identify love, gratitude, and compassion from touches but can differentiate between those kinds of touch, something people haven’t done as well in studies of facial and vocal communication.”

People understand your words better if you touch them. No that doesn’t mean if you’re angry you should punch someone. However, when you’re working to keep the line of communication open enough so that you can touch them, you’ll be more mindful about controlling your emotions. As you touch them, it reminds you that you love and appreciate this person and you want to mend the rift in your relationship, which helps you calm down. And they will feel that intention despite the hurt or anger and will be more open to listening to you.

Do you see how powerful touch can become in your communication? Which do you think will have more success? Yelling at your daughter to “get in here” then standing with your hands on your hips glaring at her? Or putting your hand on her shoulder, guiding her to the couch where you can sit closely as you look her in the eye and discuss the problem earnestly?

In the office, which will create greater team spirit and employee loyalty? Sitting behind your desk, writing on a notepad as you talk with an employee? Or greeting the employee at the door with a handshake and pat on the shoulder as you guide them to chairs that are next to each other?

Remember, to pay close attention to the signals that someone might be uncomfortable with being touched. You want to respect their boundaries so you don’t unwittingly increase their stress. Also, because of your background and upbringing, you may not feel comfortable with touching or being touched. But you can choose to make changes in an effort to improve your communication skills. It’s a basic human need. Not only will it make you healthier, it will make your relationships thrive.

Somatic coaching and therapy is an excellent way to create subtle shifts in how you use your body to influence, listen, and communicate. If you’re ready to make real and lasting changes in how you relate to others, contact me to learn how in a way that leaves you feeling wonderful and at peace.

Touch is just one of the indicators of a healthy life. Take the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment to see how you measure up. Click here to download your free copy. And don’t forget that January 21, 2016 is National Hugging Day. Who will you hug?

Five Breathing Exercises for Balancing Your Life, Your Mood and Your Relationships

Five Breathing Exercises for Balancing Your Life, Your Mood and Your RelationshipsDid you know that how you breathe reveals how you’re living your life? The ebb and flow of life consists of taking in and giving out or controlling and letting go. Isn’t that what breathing is like too?

How would you describe your quality of life? Smooth, balanced and rhythmic? Or is it a wild up and down rollercoaster ride? Perhaps you fall somewhere in between? Science has proven that there’s a definite link between tension or relaxation and the rate and depth of your breathing.

Do you carry an excessive amount of tension without even realizing it? Do you commonly have cold hands and feet even when you’re in a room-temperature environment? Do you have clammy hands because of an adrenaline release? Are you stiff in the morning and do you have excess wrinkles on your face because you’re always tense? Do you chronically feel tired? Have headaches, stomachaches and backaches? Do you always strive for perfection? Are you accident-prone? All of these are indicators that your body is too stressed.

Your body is not designed to always be uptight, to be out of balance. This excess tension will, in time, break down your health and spirit. Consciously using breathing techniques can break this pattern of stress. When you feel foggy and tired, use the following breathing exercises to clear your head, until you feel energetic yet calm.

Breathing Exercise 1

  • Stand up. Relax your knees.
  • Place your hands on your upper thighs.
  • Bend from the crease between your legs and torso.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose.
  • Exhale forcefully through your mouth while pulling your navel back toward your spine.
  • Push all the air out of your lungs.
  • Repeat.

Breathing Exercise 2

  • Stand up with your arms above your head.
  • Rhythmically jump up and down like you’re jumping rope.
  • As you jump up, inhale quickly.
  • As you land, expel your breath with a “huh.”
  • Start with a half-minute session.
  • Gradually increase the duration for each session until you achieve five minutes.
  • Stop and return to breathing normally.

Breathing Exercise 3

  • Stand up.
  • Inhale through your mouth as you raise your arms above your head, stretching for the ceiling.
  • Go up on your tiptoes.
  • Reach even higher, inhaling all the way.
  • Release.
  • Go limp, bend from the waist and let your head and arms dangle at your side as you exhale vigorously.
  • Stop and return to normal breathing.

Breathing Exercise 4

  • Take three long deep breaths.
  • Keep your focus by saying, “breathe in slowly, deeply”.
  • Exhale thoroughly.
  • Keep your focus by saying, “Breathe out fully, smile, feel peace”.
  • Repeat.

Breathing Exercise 5

Do the yoga alternate nostril breathing exercise.

  • Exhale completely, using both nostrils.
  • Press your finger against your right nostril, closing it completely.
  • Inhale slowly and smoothly through the left nostril only.
  • Hold that inhaled breath for a few comfortable seconds.
  • Then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Hold while comfortable.
  • Inhale through the right nostril only.
  • Release your left nostril and close off the right.
  • Exhale through the left nostril. Hold.
  • Keep switching between left and right nostrils as you inhale and exhale rhythmically for a total of 10 to 15 sets.
  • Go back to breathing through both nostrils.


Do you feel like you’ve created a new awareness by increasing your ability to breathe mindfully? I’d love it if you’d come to my Facebook Page and tell us your wins so we can encourage each other to keep going.

As a heads up, there are still other wellness indicators that we’ll discuss in the future. But why wait? Take the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment today and get a jumpstart on making the coming New Year the best one yet. Click here to download your free copy.

You Can Be Merry and Be Healthy – It’s Okay to Take Care of Yourself!

it's okay to take care of yourselfDon’t you love the holiday season with its bright lights, lovely music, and pleasant aromas of pine trees and baked goodies? It’s such a festive time of the year!

Yet all that glistens is not gold, as the saying goes. There are inevitable stresses during this time of year. Rather than writing a typical “how to relieve your holiday stress” article, I’m sharing something you really need to hear…

But first…Which of the follow stress triggers really get you down the most? (Please come over to my Facebook Page and let’s share.)

  • Is it feeling trapped by obligations, being pushed beyond what you can physically and emotionally handle?
  • Is it spending beyond your budget, thinking you’ll deal with it later, when in reality the bills nag at you, robbing you of joy?
  • Is it falling into unhealthy patterns due to your history, family traditions and personal beliefs?
  • Is it being thrown together with a family member who brings you pain?
  • Is it seeing an empty place where a loved one was last year, but isn’t this year?
  • Is it the disruption to your routine that allows little down time that makes you crazy?
  • Is it feeling guilty for eating and drinking things you normally wouldn’t?

Your ability to handle all of these stress triggers revolves around one thing…your self-care. And I’m sure you’ve already read plenty of articles of how to deal with holiday stress that tell you to do this and do that. What you really need is permission to take care of yourself – to be told it’s not selfish to nurture your own wellbeing. So let me reassure you…

It’s okay to set limits to what you can do physically and emotionally.

It’s okay to set a budget for what you can spend and then stick to it.

It’s okay to do things differently than everyone else.

It’s okay to start a new family tradition.

It’s okay to schedule alone time to think about how you can make even a slight change in the coming year.

It’s okay to be more deliberate about your choices.

It’s okay to indulge a little.

It’s okay to treat yourself to a massage or a brief getaway to gain some breathing room.

It’s okay to walk away from family squabbles and go for a walk or to the gym.

It’s okay to insist on getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

It’s okay to bring new meaning into your holiday: identifying why and what are you celebrating… family, connection, or spiritual growth.

It’s okay to take time out to do breathing exercises to center and balance yourself when you feel tense.

It’s okay to view friends as family, if your family has let you down.

It’s okay to say, “No! Not this year”.

Didn’t you feel the stress flow away as you read, “it’s okay”? We all need reassurance that we can choose what’s okay for us.  In the same manner, we respectfully and lovingly allow others to have the same freedom of choice. As each person calmly explains their point of view, it can promote peace and greater awareness – the very foundation of being merry and being healthy. And that’s what I wish for you. Have a happy holiday season everyone! See you on my Facebook Page.

Breathe Your Way to Wellness With the Yoga Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique

Yoga alternate nostril breathing techniqueDo you find that you don’t appreciate the little experiences of each day as much as you should, whether it’s a pleasant conversation, a delightful meal or a spectacular sunset? Don’t you owe it to yourself to savour these gifts? We can all create greater appreciation and connection with our world by slowing down and becoming more aware. Connecting our appreciation with our breathing is an excellent way to do this.

In my last post I shared some breathing exercises for you to try. Do you find that you forget to deeply breathe for days on end? It’s not unusual that your mind gets busy with day-to-day concerns and that it has trouble quieting down. One thing I’ve found to be very helpful is to leave visual reminders throughout your home, car and office. It could be as simple as coloured dots strategically placed to catch your eye and remind you to slow down and breathe. Or you could use fashionable wall art, signs, or shelf decoration that remind you to breathe.

Rather than worrying about the past or the future, learn to be present in the moment.

Use breathing to achieve awareness. Practice cueing your breathing process throughout the day in a variety of good and bad circumstances (cooking a meal, travelling to work, talking with a co-worker). Breathing in reminds you to open yourself fully to the experience, to how you feel, what you’re thinking, and how you’re reacting. Breathing out lets the tension, worry, and anxiety flow away. The next inhalation opens you again.

You can counteract emotional distress, fear, grief and anxiety by simply learning to breathe through the experience. It doesn’t matter if the strong emotion is caused by something real or imagined. What you perceive or believe in your mind manifests in your body in a physical way. You become tense, and tension affects your ability to think clearly, act rationally, breathe deeply and relax. Tension also causes pain, anxiety and panic. Shallow breathing serves in a self-protective function – that of cutting off a feeling you don’t want to handle. On the other hand, if you can learn to release your strong emotions through breathing awareness, you can break the negative, destructive power of these strong emotions. The conscious use of breath is a valuable tool in learning to express emotions appropriately.

Today I’d like to teach you how to do the yoga alternate nostril breathing, which will significantly enhance your emotional wellbeing. Involving both nostrils allows your body to become balanced. But first you must increase your awareness of imbalanced breathing so you can bring it back into balance. I encourage you to do this exercise in short practice sessions daily.

  • Exhale completely, using both nostrils.
  • Press your finger against your right nostril, closing it completely.
  • Inhale slowly and smoothly through the left nostril only.
  • Hold that inhaled breath for a few comfortable seconds.
  • Then close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Hold while comfortable.
  • Inhale through the right nostril only.
  • Release your left nostril and close off the right.
  • Exhale through the left nostril. Hold.
  • Keep switching between left and right nostrils as you inhale and exhale rhythmically for a total of 10 to 15 sets.
  • Go back to breathing through both nostrils.

Your body really does know how to heal itself if you provide it with the balance and harmony it needs. Breathing is a primary method for correcting any disharmony. Learn to listen to what your body is telling you as it attempts to regain balance. Responding to those messages and you’ll feel more centered and at peace as you learn to accept your limitations and be forgiving of yourself and others.

More than creating greater satisfaction in life, proper breathing can increase your concentration, assist you to tune into your deeper, creative self, AND make you physically, emotionally and mentally healthier. Are you ready to feel a greater connectedness with your family, friends, community, and the Earth? Contact me and I’ll support, coach and hold you accountable as you create the deeply meaningful life you crave.

Tap into the Powerful Anatomy of Breathing to Promote Better Health

Anatomy of BreathingAir is the first food of the newborn. ~ Edward Rosenfeld

Does it seem strange that we need to learn how to breathe properly? Don’t we breathe naturally from the moment we’re born? And we couldn’t quit, even if we wanted. If we hold our breath, our bodies force us to gasp for air. If we’re deprived of it for only a matter of minutes, we suffer.

So can there really be a right or wrong way to breath? Is there a way to harness your breathing to create a greater connection with your world as you release stress and tension? Could stress relief simply be a breath away? Why is it vital that we stop taking our ability to breathe for granted?

To answer these questions, let’s consider how breathing promotes better health…

With each breath of clean air, the diaphragm and other muscles pulls the chest cavity down while elevating and widening the rib cage, thereby creating a larger area for the lungs to expand fully as they pull in oxygen. Your red blood cells absorb this oxygen and transport it via your blood stream to every cell in your body. As these oxygen-rich cells travel through your system, there are countless chemical interactions that result in giving you greater energy and mental clarity.

The problem is that aspects of a modern lifestyle restrict our daily breathing process. What are some of these?

  1. Pollution

Our environment may be polluted by toxic elements from car exhaust, industrial pollution, off gassing of chemicals like formaldehyde in the rugs and furnishings in our homes. Another problem is the self-imposed pollution of smoking tobacco.

  1. Lack of Oxygen

Our homes are so tightly sealed up for the winter that there’s little air exchange, so we’re not getting an adequate supply of fresh oxygen. We wear restrictive clothing or have poor posture that doesn’t allow us to breathe deeply.

  1. Restrictive Emotions

We carry harmful emotions that restrict our airflow such as anger, fear, anxiety and grief. Breathlessness can be caused by anxiety.

What do these restrictions to our anatomy of breathing do to your health?

  • Your metabolism slows down.
  • Your brain can’t function optimally, producing brain fog.
  • Your organs are starved of oxygen reducing their function and the quality of your life.
  • The elasticity of the lungs diminishes causing shallow breathing.
  • Relationships suffer because you become short tempered, irritated, and on edge.

How can enhancing the anatomy of breathing promote better health?

Just ask any pregnant woman in labor or athlete who wants to excel at their sport if they benefited from learning how to breathe in a more focused way. They will resoundingly answer “Yes!” Breathing isn’t just for critical times like these. It’s important for everyone to create an awareness of how we are breathing every day. How do we do that?

There are two main ways to incorporate healthier breathing techniques…

Practice proper posture. Throughout the day we do many things that restrict our breathing, such as slouching. The solution is to strengthen the core muscles of the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, and genital region. Also concentrate on keeping your shoulders rotated up and back, opening up the chest and bringing the spine into alignment.

Periodically expand your lungs to their fullest capacity.  Do this exercise while still in bed every morning. Then again numerous times throughout the day as you’re either sitting or standing. Remember to breathe through your nose.

  • Exhale slowly, as you pull in your belly muscles.
  • Inhale slowly as you expand the abdomen.
  • Continue inhaling as you expand your rib cage.
  • Continue inhaling as you feel your collarbone lift.
  • Pause briefly, without holding.
  • Exhale in reverse order slowly. Release the shoulders, relax the chest, tighten the belly.
  • Do as many times as is comfortable.

Practice breathing so the inhalation and exhalation are of equal duration. Next, push the exhalation to become a little longer. The more you practice, the greater your awareness will become. Do you wish there was someone guiding you toward greater mindfulness in your life? Contact me and we’ll discuss your heath goals and how you can achieve them.

Healthy breathing is just one indicator of your wellness. There are seven to keep in mind if you want to perform at your peak. If you haven’t taken the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, click here to download your free copy.

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