Maria Connolly, LPC

Category: Somatic Coaching

Somatic Coaching will unlock your potential, revealing the body/mind connection that’s vital for living a full, rich life as a person and business professional. It gives you the skills to make subtle shifts in how you use your body as you create mindfulness and awareness that exponentially increases your ability to influence, listen, be resilient, manage stress, maintain energy and be more effective.

Pain Changes People — How to Ensure It Changes You for the Better

Pain changes people. Break the cycle of fear, inactivity, misery, and pain by somatically improving the mind, body connection, which alters your pain level.“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran

Do you think pain changes people? If you’ve ever been to a doctor and had to describe your pain, you know how isolating pain can be. “Where does it hurt? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate it?” After these questions, the doctors think they know what you’re feeling, but do they really? Even your friends and family can become impatient with your pain and just want you to “learn to live with it.” It’s no wonder pain changes people!

There are many types of pain. Emotional pain changes people as they often alter the way they relate to people, to protect themselves from future hurt. For example, we lose trust, put up walls and shut people out. We overthink things, dwelling on the negative or catastrophizing things as the worst-case scenario.

And then there’s the way physical pain changes people. Studies show that chronic pain affects 116 million American adults — more than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined — at an annual cost of $630 billion in lost productivity and health care expenses. Who hasn’t heard of the opiod crisis?

Is it inevitable that chronic pain will change you? You have more control than you may think. You don’t have to be a victim to pain. There is much you can do to manage your pain. Retreating in isolation is definitely not the answer. I think it’s important to adopt an attitude similar to the one Michael J Fox has…

 “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.” 

According to sites such as Webmed there are three main types of pain:

  • Pain caused by tissue damage, also called nociceptive pain.
  • Pain caused by nerve damage, also called neuropathic pain. 
  • Pain that has a physical origin either in tissue damage or nerve damage and is then increased or prolonged by such factors as fear, depression, stress, or anxiety, also called psychogenic pain.

Yes, emotions affect pain! Haven’t you noticed that being happy and engaged in an enjoyable activity makes you forget your pain for a time? Whereas being depressed and upset makes you hurt worse? It’s no surprise to me that science is now finding that people respond better when treated somatically — treating mind, body, and spirit as a whole, to manage chronic pain. This is something I discovered for myself over two decades ago.

There was a time in my life when chronic pain stopped me in my tracks. I quit doing things I loved doing and I wasn’t able to be present with loved ones as much as I wanted. Some days I had to clear my calendar of everything, because I just couldn’t move. But I refused to let it get the better of me.

In 2009, I signed up for a 4-year intensive study of The Feldenkrais Method®. I learned to sense into myself more accurately and deliberately. The daily practice of body awareness through movement was a delightful discovery, an opportunity to know myself through my body in motion. It enhanced my perception of both how I move and why I move, which led me to mindfulness of how my emotions affect my body.

Neuroscience has shown that pain is processed by multiple parts of the brain, including your brain’s emotional center. This means all of the connected areas need to be targeted to effectively treat chronic pain, which boil down to biology, psychology, and social functioning

The biological domain has gotten all of the attention up until now — treat the inflammation, physical therapy for skeletal and musculature repair, improve sleep and nutrition for cellular regeneration, etc.

Your psychology — your thoughts and beliefs (“I’m never going to get better; life is over!”) and emotions (hopelessness, anxiety) greatly impact your pain level. Why? Because they change how you move! You adopt unhelpful coping behaviors like withdrawing, avoiding movement and activity. 

When you lose your social support system — your family gets irritated with you, you lose your job, you don’t receive adequate health care and society devalues you — you face your pain alone. That hurts!

Somatic coaching alters the way pain changes people. It breaks the cycle of fear, inactivity, misery, and pain, by helping the sufferer take charge of emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and coping behaviors. Ultimately it may even change you into a more patient, empathetic and caring individual, one who seeks to help others.

Has chronic pain changed you and you’re ready to take a more proactive approach? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). We’ll explore what lifestyle changes you can make to change your pain, instead of letting your pain change you.

Executive Leadership Coaching Isn’t Just for C-Suite Executives

Executive Leadership Coaching Isn’t Just for C-Suite Executives “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right…If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” ~ Napoleon Hill

When you look at industry or world leaders, do you see them as your equal? We tend to put them on pedestals and idolize them, don’t we? Like most people, you probably think, “I could never be like them!” However, they, as well as all C-level executives and corporate leaders, are only human. They don’t succeed in all of their glorious accomplishments by themselves. In fact, they especially need support, since they expend so much time, strength and energy sustaining a high level of excellence.

Who supports the men and women at the top?

World leaders, C-level executives and all those in corporate leadership positions carry a heavy load. The business and employees depend on these execs to establish a culture that allows each person to perform at their highest level of competency. Since everyone “below” them is depending on them, executive leaders can’t expect personal and professional support to come from within the firm. They reach outside for executive leadership coaches to mentor and support them. And these same services are within your grasp, too!

Executive leadership coaching unlocks leaders’ potential to maximize their own performance. It helps leaders work on emotional intelligence, authenticity, well-defined boundaries of accountability, clear and direct communication, problem solving, decision-making, self-awareness and self-management.

What specific benefits can you expect from executive leadership coaching? You’ll be able to…

1. Mindfully create a vision for each role you play in life – whether that’s as a business leader, marriage mate, parent, caregiver or community leader.

2. Clearly define core values you want to exemplify in your life, which will inform your intentions, choices, and actions in all relationships.

3. Work purposefully toward a promotion or improved status of life, by strategically fast-tracking your ability to perform necessary skills.

4. Gain a competitive advantage in your industry or team, as you improve and enhance specific leadership skills.

5. Have a safe place to nurture personal growth and challenge your beliefs, as you can openly and honestly discuss your vulnerabilities and fears.

6. Discover the soft skills, which make tactical challenges such as decision making, conflict resolution or meaningful communication easier. 

7. Explore and improve your self-confidence and emotional intelligence, so you know how to read the big picture emotional landscape.

8. Develop human effectiveness by building deeper relationships in work and in life.

9. Master delegating and trusting others to contribute to the organization’s success.

10. Make a difference and add value to any given situation, as you develop greater self-confidence and accept full responsibility for your decisions and actions.

11. Deal with complicated challenges that are unique to leadership challenges by discerning the best culture and environment for people to operate at their best.

12. Learn techniques for managing your emotions, so you think clearly no matter what happens.

Leadership comes naturally to a few, but most of us have to work hard to become leaders. Either way, quality leadership doesn’t just happen by chance. Leadership skills must be fully developed and honed. That’s where executive leadership coaches like me can help you reach and maintain your full potential. By employing somatic coaching methods, I help unlock your full potential for excellence. Are you ready to fly? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

How to Become a Stronger Person: Tend to These 4 Personal Strengths

If you’re wondering how to become a stronger person, what personal strengths should you focus on? While many people equate being a strong person with having emotional and mental strength to cope with and excel, they’re missing key personal strengths that really help you become a stronger person.

“Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.” ―Katherine Dunham

Do you feel like you’re not strong enough? For many, they equate being a strong person with having emotional and mental strength to cope with and excel at anything encountered. But if you’re wondering how to become a stronger person, is focusing on mental and emotional strength the only personal strengths to work on?  What does it really mean to be a strong person and how do you become a stronger person?

Becoming a strong person means different things to different people. Be cautious…if your definition of how to be strong is flawed, you’ll end up with negative self-talk that you’re not “strong enough”.

Here are some common misconceptions of how to become a strong person:

Strong people never cry. In many cultures, men especially are taught that they can’t show this kind of vulnerability. But crying is a natural response for releasing great emotion. It takes strength to be okay with being vulnerable, no matter what other people think.

Strong people never back down. It takes wisdom to know when to stand up for yourself and your values and when to walk away. It takes strength to refuse to be manipulated or drawn into a pointless argument. Being the bigger person allows you to avoid mistaken pride, which can get in the way of disengaging from someone else’s issues. You aren’t required to take on their “stuff”. That’s on them.

Strong people never feel fear. Your brain protects you by making you feel fear. The first step to tapping into your personal strength is to identify if the fear is rational or irrational. As you mindfully experience it, you can process fear without judgment. In that way, you control your fears, rather than them controlling you.

Strong people never lose it. When life falls apart, it’s natural to have an overwhelming rush of emotions. Go ahead and complain, but at the end of the day, accept it for what it is and move on.

Strong people never have doubts. We all second-guess ourselves at time, because we can’t foresee the future. When you start down one path and it’s not the right fit, have the flexibility to shift and try something else. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t work out as expected. Calmly acknowledge your truth and know that no matter what happens, you’ll be okay.

 

Now that we have some of the misconceptions out of the way, let’s examine how to become a stronger person by focusing on these four personal strengths…

 

1. Physical Strength. Often overlooked, physical strength is at the core of your emotional and mental strength. If you know you’re not physically strong enough to do something, then your mental and emotional strength also decline rapidly.

Traditional psychotherapy and personal-development coaching focuses solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching, on the other hand, incorporates your entire body. The body, mind, emotions and spirit influence each other constantly, even when you’re not aware of it.

If your core muscles are toned and you can easily center yourself, you’ll have an immense amount of strength. Somatic practices, like the Feldenkrais Method®, help you develop a deep awareness and connection between your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.

 

2. Mental Strength. Just as your physical strength grows when you push and challenge yourself, so too, you can prepare your mind to handle hardships by challenging your mind with mental obstacles. Mental training techniques can help you create a better self-image and actually boost your fitness level, too.

 

3. Emotional Strength. An emotional response is complex energy released by an instantaneous interaction between feelings, thoughts, hormones, body sensations, and more. Because of unresolved experiences and training, we can develop emotional polarities that sap our strength, because they cause internal conflict. You can restore your inner harmony by practicing NLP Parts Integration.

 

4. Spiritual Strength. Spiritual strength springs from creating an inner peace that you can extend outwardly to the world. It involves having an intimate knowledge of self without judgment. Self-compassion fosters compassion toward others. Self-forgiveness generates forgiveness toward others, as does self-love, self-kindness, and self-generosity.

A practice of mindfulness is central to developing these four personal strengths. Self-awareness is a crucial element in your quest for becoming a stronger person. As Lalah Delia said,

“She remembered who she was and the game changed.”

Would you like to be able to deal with life’s challenges with more strength and grace? Feel free to contact me for 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.

Disconnected? 9 Somatic Practices to Fully Reconnect with Yourself & Others

Disconnected? 9 Somatic Practices to Fully Reconnect with Yourself & Others“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?

  1. Mindfulness. Daily make a practice of noticing your body sensations and emotional responses.
  1. 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

  1. Suspend judgment as you scan your body. Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation empower you to let go of self-judgments.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Visualization. Mindfully use the power of your thoughts to your advantage and engage your body in the new awareness.
  1. Reframing exercises. Rewire your brain to handle any negative event in a positive way and anchor the new action into your body.
  1. 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). 

Body Sensations Reveal How Your Emotions Affect You Somatically

Body sensations are the way you manifest your emotions in your body, and once you learn to control your emotions you can change the way your body reacts.

“Our sensations are the original language of the body.” ~ Amanda Blake

Is your body talking to you?

Are you listening to its whispers?

Or do you wait until it screams?

Learning to slow down and listen to your body isn’t just about feeling the aches and pains of over exertion. It involves discovering how you actually feel emotionally about something.

Your emotional health and physical health are intertwined and inseparable. Your emotions are experienced and stored in your body. And they are manifested through body sensations. Breathless, clammy, fuzzy, hot, heavy, dizzy, queasy, or shaky are a few body sensations you may experience when you’re angry or stressed. Energized, full, expansive, smooth, and radiating are a few body sensations you may experience when you’re joyful and confident.

It’s within your body that you’ll discover the key to unlocking your emotional intelligence. In other words, emotions live inside your body, changing your physical experience and causing you to believe and act in particular ways. One moment you’re happy (emotion) on top of the world, so you’re feeling spacious and light in the chest (body sensations). Then someone says something that makes you feel anxious (emotion). It feels like your world is caving in, your shoulders slump and you feel deflated and dull (body sensations).

Conversely, by changing your posturing, you can alleviate these body sensations and alter your emotional experience. If you’re feeling shy and uncertain, you can breathe deeply, soften and straighten your spine, lift your head and look people in their eyes. The more you practice this, the more it will be your natural response and your emotions will change to feeling more confident and self-assured.

The concept, embodied cognition, says every thought/ideal is connected with an emotion which, in turn, has a physiological response in your body. Reflect on how the energy of shyness makes you feel small and act withdrawn. Sadness feels heavy, like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Anger feels hot and stormy. Excitement feels energizing.

Tune into your emotions and identify each sensation as you experience it. Honor the messages that your body is sending you about your feelings. Don’t try to override them. Suspend any judgment of them. Simply observe them for what they are.

Do you want to become more balanced and centered? Here are some simple ways to get better acquainted with how your body responds to emotions. Observe what body sensations and emotions manifest as you do each of the following:

Regular exercise. It’s been proven to reduce stress, boost your “feel good” endorphins, enhance your self-confidence, sharpen your thinking ability, ground you, and inspire creativity.

Now add another dimension to your exercise sessions – an emotional one. Are you feeling anxious? Channel your anxiety into the physical act of exercise and release it. Invite all of your feelings, whether you view them as positive or negative, to come through your movement.

Improve your postureSitting in a slumped, helpless position invites thoughts and memories to manifest. Sitting in an upright, powerful position invites empowerment thoughts and memories.

Eating healthfully for your body type. Everyone has a unique biochemistry which greatly influences brain chemistry and emotional state. What you choose to fuel this system will be determined by your metabolism, blood type, genetic history, and activity level. Of course, we all have basic needs for fresh, nutrient-rich, whole foods.

Deep breathing. It improves your physical health and helps you remain calm under stressful situations. Also Alternate Nostril Breathing can help you achieve balance and harmony.

The key to controlling your emotions is developing an awareness of exactly WHERE you feel them, HOW they feel in your body, and in WHAT healthy ways you can process them. Somatic Coaching can help you become between attuned to what your body is telling you. Contact me and let’s schedule a session that will transform you life.

And if you need help listening to your body, make sure to click here to download your free copy of The 7-Point Wellness Assessment – Create Change Through Awareness. 

 

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